Maryvale High School (Photo Credit: Aidan Hansen)
Aidan Hansen is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Maryvale High School for AZPreps365.com.
PHOENIX – Maryvale Village has had its fair share of ups and downs since its founding in 1954.
One thing that has always remained is a sense of pride among its residents.
Maryvale is one of the worst neighborhoods in all of Phoenix because of crime and high rent prices according to estatousa.com and abc15.
However, some residents have opted to serve the community through teaching and coaching locally in the Phoenix Union School District.
Devante Stokes, the quarterbacks coach, grew up in Maryvale Village for most of his youth and graduated from Maryvale High School in 2011.
Times were hard back then, but seem even harder now.
“There were shootings that were going on, there was gang violence, there was drug dealing. It was just a normal thing,” Stokes said. “Even now it’s worse because now I understand what’s going on for real, so I see things from an adult perspective and I see what happened and how things transpired.”
Stokes played high school and college football. He continues to try and better the community by being a part of the Maryvale coaching staff, coaching youth flag football, and playing football for non-profits that help kids grow, such as The Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“We do have Maryvale pride, we’re proud to come from Maryvale even though it has its downsides to it,” Stokes said. “I love Maryvale, it helped me deal with life, and understand life. I will always go back to saying I love Maryvale.”
Stokes’s grandmother Annie Grant, has lived in the Maryvale Village since 1981 and worked at Maryvale High School from 1981 through retirement in 2007. Grant now substitute teaches at Maryvale and surrounds herself with people that want to better the community.
“I have stakes here and I’m not going to move away now,” Grant said, “I brought my kids up in this community, I have five graduates from [Maryvale High School]. I have a feel for the people”
Grant loves Maryvale High School and the community.
“If your heart is where your heart is then that is where you will be, and my heart has been with Maryvale,” she said. “I am determined to stay here as long as I can and give back to the community.”
Another person giving back in Maryvale is Kareem Neal.
A special education teacher at Maryvale since 2007, Neal was recognized as the Arizona State Teacher of the Year in 2019 and was also inducted into the Teachers Hall of Fame in 2022.
Neal also had a student on Maryvale varsity boy’s basketball team.
“All students need access to athletics, so for special ed students, they dont have as many opportunities,” Neal said “So it’s important to have a community that supports it and our community is really supportive of it. I think the Maryvale community does a good job of being very welcoming.”
Neal has also participated in community programs that help special needs students in Maryvale.
One of them is the Maryvale Family YMCA Miracle League.
This YMCA program helps disabled children play baseball on a rubberized turf so that when a child falls, they are not seriously injured.
“It was amazing seeing the community support…seeing things like Miracle League and the Special Olympics that have general education and special education folks,” Neal said. “I love those types of programs because it makes it seem like they are a bigger part of the community than sometimes how it feels.”