Kevin on Coming Back to Gonzaga (By Danny Harris)


Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.

“I teach English and coach freshman football at Gonzaga High School. My older brothers and every male cousin, that’s ten of us, went to Gonzaga. It will sound crazy, but not only did my brothers and I go to the same high school, we also all went to Gettysburg College. Like me, my older brother Chris came back to Gonzaga to coach and teach after college. This place gets into your blood and you want to give back to it. I never thought I’d be a teacher, but when I got the opportunity to come back to Gonzaga, I jumped at it. This school did so much for me in terms of taking a narrow-minded suburban kid and opening up my eyes to the fact that there are people who don’t get all they need in life.

“For me, this school is a great representation of DC. We get a diverse group of kids: city kids, suburban kids, rich kids and poor kids. When you get them all together in this place, it sorta wakes up kids to the fact that there is a world outside of their suburban subdivisions or their inner city apartment buildings. And I think with this school being in a tough neighborhood, kids are forced to see the hardships of urban living. Gonzaga is not in some beautiful suburb. When these kids walk into school ever day, they are walking by guys asking for money who have nothing. There is a soup kitchen across the street. Kids don’t need to learn about poverty when they see it every day. All kids need to have a perspective like this. These are going to be the future leaders of the world. How can you lead if you think that everyone is like you and has the same problems and the easy life that you do?

“One of the reasons I got back into coaching is because athletics are the best way to teach kids how to deal with adversity. And a lot of the kids coming to this school, even if they come from the best economic situations, are all gonna deal with or are dealing with adverse situations. Athletics is also a great way to bring kids together. I’m the head freshman football coach. These guys, from such different backgrounds, they come together right away on the field. Out here, privilege doesn’t matter, everyone is on the same team. It’s hard to explain what I see happen to these kids. In a short time on the field, they grow up both physically and mentally and learn to trust and depend on each other. These relationships last and being an alumnus of this school, the friends I met that first day of football tryouts are still my best friends. They will probably be the groomsmen at my wedding and the Godfathers to my children. Now, I get to watch these relationships develop among my athletes. Coming back to Gonzaga means a lot to me. This is s a really special place for me.”

15 Comment

  • Just out of curiosity, what is the annual tuition at Gonzaga, and what is the age range represented there?

  • About 16 grand. It’s a 4-year High School.

  • Where is it?

  • Great story – Kevin can I fix you up with my cute Niece? (she’s hoping to teach at Gongaza next year.)

  • Sorry ladies, he’s gay. Aye, jess kidding.

    Enjoy your 15min on the PoP!

  • Is that where Fenty’s kids went before he sent them to upper NW to a “public” school?

    $16K a year for Gonzaga…. Ugh. Hope I never ever have children in DC and need to contemplate those sorts of costs.

  • From Gonzaga’s website:

    “Gonzaga strives to ensure that anyone who is accepted to Gonzaga is not prevented from attending because of financial reasons. In 2009-2010 Gonzaga students will receive a total of $1,900,000.00 to assist their tuition obligations.”

  • I agree with Kevin. Kids need to have a better understanding of poverty and how those not ‘priviledged’ live. I am torn by this story. On the hand, Gonzaga seems to provide opportunities for those less fortunate, but on the other it seems like a blue blooded institution where annual tuition costs almost $20,000. I would imagine that the latter are the majority, but am still happy that there are opportunities for the less fortunate there.

  • So $1.9 million would provide for about 118 students to attend for a year. Wonder what their total enrollment is… Regardless, I doubt the tuition assistance would help a middle class family, its probably designed for the poverty stricken. Thank goodness for MD and VA schools I guess…

  • Uh, price check please. Many private schools in DC, including early elementary education), are WELL OVER $25,000/ yr (eg, Georgetown Day, Sidwell, WIS, NCS, Maret – look at their websites) while most Catholic elementary schools are about $8,000 a year- that is a $17,000+ per year differnece. Thus, they are considered quite a bargain for parents who are not comfortable with their district public school.

  • Wow lots of class warfare on this thread. People should be able to send their kids to a school that costs a million bucks if they want to. And I don’t think this school is obligated to give out any financial aid, so they have they are contributing almost 2 mill in financial aid should be lauded, not castigated.

  • So, my best friend in college graduated from Gonzaga and I graduated from a MCPS. He was very successful in high school. He was a lot less successful in college… graduating with as close a 2.0 as is possible to graduate with. Having spent 4 years with the kid I noticed that his study skills were crap and he seemed to get lost in a 30k person school. I have seen similar characteristics from other private school kids…basically it’s a tough transition to more anonymous settings with no one guiding you, checking up on you and holding your hand to get you into college (I have a cousin that went to St Alban’s that experienced similar problems). Whereas, I had already pretty much dealt with self sufficiency/anonymity from grade school on and so the anonymity of college wasn’t a big surprise. With that said, I really have a lot of respect for the Jesuit education model which, ideally, incorporates a lot of morality and personal development, much of which is non-existent outside of team sports in public school. I have spoken with a few people who really benefited from the character development.

    That and the fact that you are sending your kids into a hell hole in DCPS makes the $16k seem like a good idea and a bargain if you’re a city dweller.

  • Vonstallin

    I saw the purple and the field and imdeiatly thought cardoza….

    I said to myself…”Dudes hardcore”….

    Then I noticed it said Gonzaga…

  • Well I think the fundamental issue is who can pay tuition and fees on top of taxes to send their kid to school. I certainly couldn’t not at present. Fingers crossed of course, but if a 5 year old showed up on my doorstep claiming to be my kid, I’d need to head to MD. Not that there aren’t bad schools there as well, but its a no brainer for lower middle class folks like me to flee DC in such circumstances. Whether you like it or not, $16K is a fortune to some of us. Kudos to the Gonzaga and the other Jesuit schools of course, but I couldn’t afford them and I wouldn’t qualify for their aid I’d guess. Not class warfare, just fact.

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