Tales at a Tailgate: WEHS Hosts First Graduating Class for Homecoming10/4/2022
The first WEHS graduating class and former staff gather for a group photo at the Class of 2012 Tailgate, held just before the homecoming game.
It seems like only yesterday Wylie was a one high school town; however, it’s already been 10 years since Wylie East High School’s first graduating class walked across the stage.
To commemorate the inaugural WEHS graduating class, former and current WEHS teachers hosted a tailgate for the members of the Class of 2012.
Alpha staff member, Ms. Jessica Taylor has been at Wylie East since it opened its doors in 2007. She was excited to catch up with her former students who are now married: Caitlin and Dominick Stives, and their baby.
Dubbed the “Alpha Class,” these former students and their families were invited to the school for food, fellowship and a tour of the campus.
“I wanted to put something together for this class because they were so special to us,” WEHS Counselor Ms. Jessica Taylor said. “They were the first Raiders and were the ones responsible for creating some of the traditions at Wylie East. Getting to have them all back and see their kids was so heartwarming. It makes you realize that you have an impact on all the students you teach, and to be able to catch up with many of them 10 years later is pretty special.”
Class of 2012 alumna Luana DaSilva signs Ms. Cheng’s autograph book.
Ms. Pauline Cheng brought her “yearbook,” a spiral she used year-after-year for her students to autograph.
“I was very excited to see my former students at the tailgate party,” Ms. Cheng said. “Two of them had to drive in rush hour traffic to get there. Alumni were very impressed by how big WEHS has become.”
Mr. Mike Williams, the first principal of Wylie East, meets the son of a former student, Harley Gayken. Gayken is currently teaching at East.
Former teachers and the first principal, Mr. Mike Williams attended the tailgate too.
“It was great seeing so many Raiders for Life,” Mr. Williams said. “Catching up on what they are doing today and meeting spouses and children was something special for me.”
Now an assistant principal at Wylie High School, Mrs. Amanda Lannan’s first year in education was as a social studies teacher at Wylie East when it opened in 2007.
“It was so wonderful to see all of our former students as adults with their own children, spouses and careers,” Mrs. Lannan said. “I enjoyed catching up with all of the staff that began at Wylie East. Students move on and begin their lives, but we never forget them and always have the highest hope for them. This was an opportunity to check in on many of them and see what their dreams came to be.”
Compared to the Class of 2012’s 292 seniors, the current WEHS senior class has 578 -- nearly double in size. To compensate for the growth in student population, the campus has had many additions in these past 10 years: a new Career and Technical Education building, additional classrooms and labs, the IMPAC building, turf softball, baseball and football fields, three additional gyms and an expanded Fine Arts wing just to name a few.
Class of 2012’s Tyler Morris poses with his former math teacher Ms. Pauline Cheng, and former health teacher Mrs. Angela Arp.
The former students also toured these new parts of the building. They were in awe of the brand-new multi-purpose facility, the Mike Williams Center, where they watched and cheered on varsity volleyball as they played Garland High School.
“The Mike Williams Center showcases the years of dedication and commitment to athletic success Mike Williams and all of Wylie East’s coaches, teachers and faculty demonstrated,” former student-athlete and Alpha Class member Tyler Morris said. “The core of East’s athletic programs has remained the same from the time the Class of 2012 competed; work hard, stay humble and win. The Mike Williams Center provides the platform for East’s athletes to showcase the countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears that go into their preparation in order to succeed at the highest level. It’s an honor to see the continued growth and passion for our teams’ success.”
Class of 2012 alumnus Derek Garber recalled when his varsity football team had to use the girls P.E. locker room.
"We had 50 guys rushing to get ready for school in a small space," Garber said. "Most of us had to change in the hallway because only half of us could fit. There were only three shower heads and if you were lucky to be one of the first guys running up from practice, you’d get a warm shower. Coach Lepsis said this gave us grit!"
The 10-year reunion tailgate concluded with an invitation to that evening’s homecoming football game against Garland High School. The Raiders defeated the Owls, 34-7, bringing them to 5-0 on the season and the perfect way to wrap up an unforgettable event.
Alpha Class members Nikki Culver and Emily Gardner locate their band photos in the band hall while touring the school.
Standing under a Raiders for Life sign created for homecoming by WEHS Student Council, high school sweethearts Alec and Alexa Shapiro, both members of the Class of 2012, are now married.
Lots has changed in the past 10 years. The graphic above illustrates how much Wylie East High School has grown.