Honoring a Legacy: William “Billy” Allen Inducted into the Casa Grande Union High School Hall of Fame
October 6, 2023
Gila River Indian News
On Thursday, Sept. 14, William “Billy” Allen was inducted into the Casa Grande Union High School (CGUHS) Hall of Fame. CGUHS bestowed this honor at a Honoree Barbecue banquet, where he shared the stage with six other esteemed teachers who significantly impacted their students at CGUHS. Highlights of Billy Allen’s professional career were recited during the banquet.
Billy was born in the old Sacaton hospital and raised in Va’aki or Casa Blanca. For over three decades, Allen served as a teacher and coach, providing a fundamental role for the O’otham Community, not only as a cultural educator but also as a mentor in the lives of the students and athletes he taught.
Mr. Allen received his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in 1975 and spent a year and a half with Sacaton Public Schools. Along the way, he earned a Master’s in Education in 1987, both degrees were from Arizona State University. He began at CGUHS in 1977 and during those years he taught American Indian/ O’otham studies, American History, and O’odham Language classes. Allen retired in 2009.
“I feel honored,” said Allen, before receiving his award. “I think the big thing that helped was when we won the 1981 State Cross Country Championship,” he stated as he recalled the runners on that team. Allen spent 20 years as the cross-country and assistant track coach at CGUHS. His coaching was simply sharing his knowledge of track and cross country gained from Manuel Quintanar and George Young, of Central Arizona College.
“Billy was the staple here in our social studies department, he taught at the very beginning in what was called Indian Education and he taught history. He shared the love of his Community, the love of the history of this country with so many of the students; He changed their lives,” said Donna Telles, Assistant Principal of Activities at CGUHS, recognizing Mr. Allen’s journey at the school. She explains his warm hellos in the hallways and his influence beyond the classroom as a dedicated coach. Mr. Allen also served as the social studies chair and president of the teacher’s association.
“He made us realize our worth,” said Steve Nasewytewa, District 3, as he shared his memories of Mr. Allen. Steve Nasewytewa was the first of many O’otham runners to become elite Arizona high school runners Allen would coach. He said that Mr. Allen taught Nasewytewa the importance of embracing diversity as an Indigenous person, living with simplicity, and cultivating gratitude. “He is someone that I looked up to, other than my mom,” he said.
Mr. Allen and others were also introduced during halftime of the CGUHS vs. Maricopa High School Homecoming football game on Sept. 15. When Mr. Allen was introduced, he was greeted with “Sa:p kaij, Billy?’ The emcee was a long time employee who used to ask Mr. Allen for O’otham phrases, an example of Mr. Allen’s dedication and passion for teaching. When you see Mr. Allen approach him and say, ‘Sa:p kaij?” (What do you say?)