Celebrating the Legacy of Our Founder: Dr. Joe McDonald


J.D Hill is a retired NFL wide receiver who played seven seasons in the league. He was the first wide receiver to be selected in the 1971 NFL draft and was fourth overall. J.D Hill went to play for the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions. Steven Holden was a wide receiver who played for the Cleveland Browns. Steven expressed that Dr. McDonald connected with his players and cared for them as if they were his own. “ He made sure that we understood what we were doing was just to start, and he made sure that football was just the game, and he made sure we continued on after we got through playing football because sports was just the beginning,” Holden said.  

Dr. McDonald then became the first-ever principal at Desert Vista in 1995 as well as the first black principal in the district. On September 23rd, 2021, Desert Vista held the first ceremony for him. He was more than just a principal, he was a visionary and wanted our school to be the best it could be. “Everything was about being the best and so if there was an impact or a legacy that he leaves behind it’s one of excellence and really making sure that that’s the foundation of anything that you’re going to begin or start. It started with a vision of excellence, he really didn’t put any limits on it or try to minimize it, it was about always being the best”, Stacia Wilson said. 


He was so connected to our school and the students. He knew every name of every incoming freshman coming from Akimel A- al Middle School. Most people said that he was the embodiment of what a leader should be. “I would say that he was the idyllic role model of what a leader should be. He didn’t do right just because he was afraid of getting in trouble. He was such an amazing leader that he made you want to follow in those footsteps, it made you want to be your best self. That was his whole energy.” Amanda Goe, the first person to graduate from Desert Vista, says. 

Joe McDonald was an amazing father, grandfather, friend, coach, teacher, and principal. He was kind, courageous, and strong. He built the foundation of our school and has given administrators, teachers, and students all kinds of opportunities. He saw and connected with every person he met, spreading his energy and love to everyone. At Desert Vista High School, we appreciate and cherish Dr. McDonald and everything he has done for us. He is our visionary, our king, and our founder.


The ceremony was created by Mr. Klecka and the guest speakers were Amanda Goe, Matt Garvey, Dr. Anna Battle, Dan Hinds.