The Story Behind The Smile


Ellie Reese, Features Editor

Not everything can be viewed at surface level. Many are fighting battles that thrive deeper. Upon first impression, PHS senior Amondre McCaul, is a happy, funny soul that radiates positivity. His energy can’t help but make a person smile, but behind his smile is a story of hardship and growth. 


When asked if he was strong, Amondre said, “I wouldn’t say strong because there’s times when I let my past get to me and it sucks, but I definitely am someone who doesn’t like to give up easily because I’m still here. So maybe I am strong.” After experiencing Amondre’s story alongside him for many years, there is doubt that he is strong.


Amondre grew up in a single parent home along with six of his siblings and the presence of drug abuse. His family unit was not picture perfect. Despite this, Amondre has learned a lot. He said, “My mom made some mistakes in the past, but I learned to forgive her and give her another chance. She’s always going to be my mom and I love her a bunch. I also learned how to not tear apart a family. Her mistakes were bad and I could’ve laid down and let the issue hurt me, but instead it helped because I know what not to do in life now.” As for Amondre’s father, his biological dad sadly lost his life before getting to know him.


As his home life began to take a toll on him, Amondre entered the foster care system in eighth grade. He would bounce from place to place trying to find a sense of security. Whether this was through friends or other family, like his grandma Debbie Hill, he did not want to be home. Amondre was very much loved among his peers, so much so that they turned into family. Amondre said, “I played football with Lewie McCaul in fifth grade so he was a familiar face. That year, his family had a party after our last football game. That’s how I met the McCauls. Their kids, Lewie and Annie, always rode my grandma’s bus and I was always on there, but I never noticed them. The connection was confusing, but yeah a football party is what changed my life.”


Ever since that night, the group began to bond. Amondre would have never guessed that a football party would lead to one of the most important days of his life, his adoption day. He said, “It was snowy and icy on the roads. The time was moved from 1 to 9 because more snow was coming and Lewie had just gotten out of the hospital with appendicitis. Once we got to the courthouse, I remember walking in and thinking this is it. So many of my family members and friends were there. I felt so loved and important, it was awesome. When the judge said, “Alex and Judy McCaul, Amondre is now your son” and they both started crying, it made my heart melt a little because I knew they really loved me like one of their own. Wow it was amazing.” In December of 2019, his junior year of high school, Amondre officially became a McCaul.


Amondre said, “I feel like my past was all faked. I used to put on a fake smile a lot and just go through the days acting like I was okay, but because of the support from my family and friends, I learned how to actually be happy again. I did not expect my life to turn out the way it did at all. Everything fell in line just the way it needed to.” Amondre is the perfect example of “grow through what you go through.” 


For anyone going through the same struggles Amondre once did, he advises, “read my favorite Bible verse, Romans 8:18, ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us’. No matter what you go through now, in the end, if you persevere and keep your head up, the glory that is hiding beneath your pain and hurt will shine through like a beacon of hope for you and others.” This verse has helped Amondre accomplish many things here at PHS. He is a football captain, he is involved in track, choir, FFA, FCA, NHS, and Bible Club.


Despite the issues he has faced, there are no hard feelings between him and the family he used to live with. This is sadly not always the case, Amondre said, “I became more perseverant. I became someone I can be proud of and respect because I’m better than what happened. I know what not to do in the future. I know it’s part of a plan and everything that is happening to you is all part of a bigger, better plan. Keep your head up, look at the brighter sides of issues and never take anything for granted.”


I have witnessed this fight for many years now. Every step was difficult in its own way, but he overcame. His strength continued to grow with every obstacle, keeping a smile on his face. His previous struggles will not stand in the way of his future. Although you have not watched his story unfold first hand, let it be an inspiration.