Kori and Daren De Leon, a Seal Beach couple, has been named 2021 “Heroes of the Heart” of Los Alamitos High School by interim Principal Dr. Gregg Stone.
The announcement came at Tuesday’s meeting of the Los Alamitos Unified School District.
The couple attended the meeting via Zoom with their son Tyler, a standout linebacker for the Griffin football team that has signed a scholarship agreement to play for and attend the prestigious West Point Academy.
“I talked to Tyler a few weeks ago,” said Stone, “and I said Tyler, here’s the deal. I need to get your parents to a school board meeting, but I don’t know how to do it because it’s a secret.”
Tyler complied and the three appeared via Zoom before the board as Dr. Stone announced that they had been selected as the Griffin “Heroes of the Heart.” Not only did the de Leons’ receive the title, but they were also honored with what is likely one of the last poetic compositions penned by the interim principal, known for his prolific creative abilities.
Stone came out of retirement to again lead the school after an unexpected vacancy and will go back into the retirement in July when Christiana Kraus becomes the high school’s new principal.
While the printed word can hardly suffice for Dr. Stone’s timing, intonation and delivery, his words still ring powerful in the mind of those who hear them.
He first recounted the de Leons’ history of giving “at every level of the district; elementary, middle and high school. So, I want to talk about them; about what it means to be a volunteer.”
His poetic delivery recounted the couple’s “giving of hundreds of hours each year to support our students, helping out at sporting events, carnivals, choir shows in the light,” and also “giving your time and talent into the wee hours of the night.”
It means serving on committees, booster clubs, fundraisers and donating snacks, meals, money and more, said Stone. It means working weekends, holidays and during summer break.
“It’s not about giving back to the community, it is simply what one should do,” he proclaimed.
“If you do any one of these things, you’re a hero. But when you do all of these things, year after year, for 20 years, you are a hero of the heart,” he said in making the announcement.
Dr. Stone said Daren and Kori de Leon “have been mainstays in our schools for over 20 years. At times they were a shoulder to cry on. At other times, he said they were there to celebrate with cheers.
“They saw the need, jumped in with both feet,” he said, reminding the online audience of the many various roles the couple has played, noting, for instance, handing out programs, taking tickets and for Daren making the “inflatable Griffin” on display for every game.
“It was never just what’s in it for my child,” said Dr. Stone of the de Leons, “but they wanted to be able to serve all. Their volunteering was out of the sense of duty,” he said.
Put simply, Dr. Stone thanked them for “hearing your call.”
“Thank you so much,” said Kori de Leon. “We could not have asked for a better school, a better district for all of our children,” she said.
“I can only say to those of you watching on camera and those of you watching that this district (LAUSD) is special. It is unique. And it cares,” she said. “At one point, I spent quite a few Tuesdays at school board meetings,” said de Leon, “and I fell in love with our district all over again.”
“We are so grateful to everybody, thank you so much,” she said.
“Don’t you know that somebody who gives heart and soul to the district is going to turn it around and thank everybody else,” said Board President Marlys Davidson. We are a great district because of our families,” she said. “You make all the difference.”