Leon Lundie had a few moments to reflect on the power and depth of Overland High School's generosity before a bucket full of green slime poured over his head.
Lundie, who's served as Overland's principal for the last nine years, spoke at the outset of the school's annual Wish Week assembly on Feb. 15, a gathering that serves as the capper of a campaign to make a dream come true for someone in need. This year, that someone was Davasia Goens, a teenager waging a battle against a nasty type of kidney failure that necessitated long and draining rounds of dialysis.
Along with support from feeder schools and the rest of the community, Overland High School worked with Make-A-Wish Colorado to raise more than $11,000 that will send Davasia and her family on a Disney cruise. The school-wide assembly held on Feb. 15 was a joyous celebration of that effort, and Davasia and her family became guests of honor during a ceremony that featured singalongs, performances by Overland's girls gymnastics team and drama department and, finally, the sliming of Leon Lundie and teacher Seth Replogle.
Over nearly a decade at Overland, Lundie has built a reputation for participation in all kinds of student activities and for always being a good sport for the sake of school spirit. This year's Wish Week assembly was no different, as he proudly sat on a plastic chair set up in a kiddie pool in the middle of the gym and let students pour a bucket of green goo over his head.
Despite this note of silliness, however, the assembly represented something special for Lundie, who's planning on retiring at the end of the school year. Since coming to Overland, the school's Wish Week celebrations have grown in scope and participation; the event has become a signature celebration of generosity, selflessness and involvement for the entire community. Celebrating his last Wish Week as Overland principal held a special significance for Lundie.
"This has grown to the point where you can see the difference and you can see kids starting to think about someone other than themselves. To me, that speaks volumes," Lundie said. "It's bigger than Homecoming week now; that's how exciting it is for kids now. It's really, really special. Words can't express how proud I am of our community and our kids."
Sarah Grosh, development manager for Make-A-Wish Colorado, was also on hand to express her pride at the school's continuing legacy of hard work and generosity for those in need. As Davasia, who headed straight to the school from a dialysis session, entered the gym with her family, Grosh spoke of the value of the school's continued commitment to giving.
"Because of you, during Davasia's treatment, she was able to be excited and have something to celebrate," Grosh told the capacity crowd. "That is the power of what you've done. You've created the opportunity to replace fear with confidence."
Davasia, meanwhile, took in the cheers, the cameras and the outpouring of support in stride. She wore a broad smile throughout the proceedings, and offered a constant set of hugs to her mother, who couldn't hold back tears of joy when a group of student representatives offered the family a check for $11,000. When asked what she was looking forward to the most on the upcoming Disney cruise, Davasia offered a straightforward and encouraging answer: "Being with my family."