On Sunday, Nov. 20, dozens of Kingwood High School students drove off the noisy thoroughfare into a quiet, well-lit neighborhood and headed to an intriguing commemorative tribute. It was as if they left an entirely separate world only to be greeted by the entrancing clarity of a more familiar one. With the hopes to show appreciation to their adored substitute teacher, these students gathered at Douglas Love’s house in an act of pure kindness. “As a Kingwood student, I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Love for the last four years,” Kingwood High School senior Gabrielle Cowart said. “I admire his love for our school and it is unveiled in his glowing smile that captures his personality.” To the students, Love stands out as a teacher who, at age 88, never fails to show his compassion to each individual – and, of course, his crazy hats always make everyone smile. Recently, Love endured some harsh comments from an underclassman, telling him that he didn’t have to listen to Love because he is old and would be dead soon. Students were immediately moved by the incident of disrespect and were inspired to fulfill their hopes to give recognition to their favorite substitute teacher. As Love said, many students could have been doing something more fun on a Sunday night, but instead they went to show Love how much he means to the student body. A celebration was planned within a day to surprise him by singing ‘All You Need Is Love’ by the Beatles. “After hearing about the rude remarks made to Mr. Love just before the break, as a group, we wanted to make sure that he knew he is loved and cared for by students and teachers alike,” Kingwood High School senior Jason Dayvault, who helped organize the event, said. “We wanted him to know that one student’s opinion does not represent the views of the vast majority of Kingwood High School.” A sense of camaraderie and excitement filled the air as students frantically passed around the lyrics to the song and quickly signed posters and pictures. One of them included a framed picture of Love beaming from the center wearing one of his famous hats – this one was a turkey. Surrounding the picture were signatures of students sprawled in green, pink and blue marker. As Love walked outside, he was pleasantly shocked by the mass amount of students: “Wow! What did I do to deserve all of this?” Love said. The students felt timid while he watched his audience fluctuate with each passing note. Though that soon changed when Love broke the ice using one of his cherished jokes: “Did anyone teach you kids how to read?” As the singing grew louder, the compassion in each student’s heart grew more evident. Students were carrying flowers and balloons in their hands and love in their hearts. “The atmosphere was one of not only love and respect, but also of togetherness and friendship,” Dayvault said. “It was awesome to see everyone banding together for a common cause.” The number of people present revealed the compassionate side of students that served as a relief to Love after the encounter. “The visit far exceeded any expectations we’d had; we were hoping for at least 25-30 students, and we had well over 100 students present with many more present in spirit,” Dayvault said. However, the students extended their gratefulness by bringing several tokens of appreciation. “A lot of people stayed to give him flowers, candy and all kinds of sweet little things,” Cowart said. “Mr. Love, as precious as he is, let everyone come in his house and individually gave everyone a hug.” No one that was present could have possibly foreseen the amount of press the event was going to receive. The story about Love spread quickly – it soon had roughly 100,000 views on the CNN website. Unexpectedly, this heartwarming story was soon viewed at national and worldwide levels. “The coverage has illustrated that today’s teenagers and young adults are not a generation of laziness and apathy but rather of justice and change,” Dayvault said. “The stories shed a positive light on high school students who are the leaders of tomorrow.” Along with Dayvault, the Kingwood High organization called Just About Kids (JAK) is playing a major role in supporting Love. The mission is to raise money in the form of teacher grants to make up the amount lost in budgetary cuts. “So far this year, in just the first semester, we have funded the grant requests of more than 30 teachers, and we are excited to be doing more in upcoming months and for years to come,” Dayvault said. This coming March, JAK will dedicate an event to Love called ‘For the Love of Music.’ The affair is planned like an American Idol spin-off several with singing competitions split among age groups. “The top contestants from each group will compete for a grand prize on the night of the big event, Saturday, March 24. The day will be dedicated to Mr. Love in honor of his longtime commitment to Kingwood High School,” Dayvault said. Because of the hard work of Dayvault and JAK, Love will always know that he is appreciated at Kingwood High School. “He is a model of character and dedication, and his presence at the school is never overlooked,” Dayvault said. Photos: (Top) Kingwood High School substitute teacher Douglas Love. (Bottom) Kingwood High School students sang “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles outside substitute Douglas Love’s house Sunday, Nov. 20.

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