School’s back in session, high school football games have started and students, teachers and staff are ready to show their pride. And it’s a tradition to have me kick off the season for Friday Night Flights. After writing some stories for the newscasts and wavy.com, and anchoring the 5 and 6pm news on WAVY, I changed clothes and got buckled up in Chopper 10 with photographer Chris Omahen (seen below) and pilot Steve Decker.
It’s always a beautiful flight over Hampton Roads and tonight was no different. We landed at Lake Taylor High School first for their game against Phoebus.
You could see the sea of red from up above and we received warm greetings from the second we landed.
The cheerleaders helped me toss out the WAVY footballs to the crowd. They certainly have a better arm than I do! They are excited about what the new school year holds. The Titans have a lot to be proud of as they start the new school year. They have a new field house for the visiting team which just opened up tonight.
But principal Dr. Reba Jacobs-Miller is most proud of the students’ academic achievements and honors heading into this new year. She told me, “We had the highest graduation completion index of all of the schools in Norfolk so we are very excited about that. We were recognized at our convocation. It actually has the students who are seniors now excited about graduating because they know we will provide the assistance that’s needed to be successful.”
From Lake Taylor we headed to Chesapeake and Western Branch High School. They won their game with Bethel. They have some of best fans in Hampton Roads. It was a theme of school spirit and family support at the game. When we flew in range, we realized it was halftime and the band was taking the field. Once we landed, they entertained us and we saw a sea of neon green in the stands. It’s actually a show of support for a former P.E. teacher and J.V. coach Stuart Baiza who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Student Alex Abbey told me, “We were actually already doing neon night but we wanted to come out here and his cancer color is green and we wanted to support him and his family by wearing green.”
It was a spirit-lifting for Mr. Baiza who told me, “It just lets me know I don’t have to go through it alone these kids have been great. Being a teacher of theirs and to have them come through in my time of need. It’s a big honor.” He was at the game with his wife and little girl. What a great show of support!
UPDATE: Stuart’s mom Colleen Rees emailed me a heartwarming email full of gratitude after seeing our report. She gave me permission to share some of it which read, “Stuart was concerned that the focus be on the kids accomplishments and I think you tied the two issues together beautifully. Stuart was diagnosed on the 19th of August – nearly 3 months after his son Leighton was born – we have been in a spiral since then. The whole night was very special – not only was it wonderful to see the kids come up to Stuart and wish him well but also from a nostalgia perspective. Stuart is an Alumni of WBHS. He was inspired to become a PE teacher from his coaches. Coach Lew Johnson was one, he helped Stuart move on to college where he made the CNU Team in their maiden season. “
She also emailed me a picture of the ribbons her sister designed for his cause. Several people were wearing them at the game.
She said the family is hopeful doctors will tackle the tumor, get him in remission and find a cure. She says the community support really helps the family cope.
I love doing Friday Night Flights for all of the fun- but also for getting important messages out about the schools, the students and staff and the community. This is an awesome example of that. We wish Mr. Stuart Baiza well with his treatment and recovery.