Do you recall whom Phillip Phillips is?

Probably not, as pop culture stardom can be a brief cycle and we have short memories. To help you remember, Phillips won American Idol in May 2012. His “coronation song” was “Home” and received heavy radio play. You would likely readily remember it—but still not him—as its catchy refrain found its way into movies, TV shows, and commercials soon after.

Anyway, it was on my shuffle this morning on my drive in to Champe and heading into tonight’s varsity football showdown with Briar Woods High School, I couldn’t help but think back to our inaugural year five years ago. While so much of that year still stands out to me, I have a special fondness for that song in particular. Not just because it is a catchy pop song, but because we had a tradition in our first year (maybe even the second year?) of playing that song over the stadium speakers at the end of every home football game.

We didn’t notch our first win until our second season, so that song took on an air of melancholy as it played the team and all of us out of the stadium. Many students didn’t seem to mind and even still sang along with it as they headed to their cars. But what I enjoyed about hearing the song every home game is that it spoke to one of the founding principles we sought to establish when we opened: the idea of family, of belonging.

Consider this verse from the song:

“Hold on, to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home”

And so six years later, while we don’t play that song after our games, the sentiment is still the same. Just know you’re not alone. Many students are looking to find a home, where they belong, and looking for someone to hold onto. Even some adults. But they are not alone here; they don’t need to feel that way. I hope that the past six years has shown students that there are many places to call home here at Champe. Whether it is theater, band, art club, the robotics team, forensics, the lit mag, sports, or something else, there are a myriad of homes and families reaching out to you at John Champe High School to make sure that no one feels alone.

If you get lost, you can always be found. And even new students who arrive after the year has started don’t have to feel alone—our student ambassadors who show them around when they register are always available to them, especially at lunch so they don’t have to feel alone in a cafeteria of 500 students. There are ways to be found here—just let us find you.

So, as we get ready for kickoff in a couple of hours, I’m looking forward to the game tonight. We won’t hear “Home” afterwards, but if you look around the stands, you will see how many students have made this place their home. And that is my favorite part about game night: win or lose against a vaunted team like Briar Woods, it is about seeing 2,000 people on the home side having a great night, making memories, and experiencing that sense of belonging.