Happenings - July 2005
Grand County High School
and Dina Johnson Lance
by Jeff Richards
Moab residents Dina Johnson Lance and her husband David
Lance graduated from Grand County High School 1978 and
1981, respectively. Dina is a language arts teacher at
Grand County Middle School, while David does custodial
and maintenance work at Grand County High.
taught 3rd grade at Red Rock Elementary School for several
years before switching to the middle school a couple
of years ago. “It was a bit of a cultural adjustment,” she
says of the change. “But 8th-graders are just like
3rd-graders -- they’re just in bigger bodies.”
Dina’s oldest two children are already in college. Son Jestin Darbonne,
22, graduated from GCHS in 2001 and is now attending college in Ogden,
studying architectural design. Daughter Anna Darbonne, 20, graduated
from GCHS in 2003 and recently completed her bachelor’s degree
in psychology from Westminster College in Salt Lake (she earned her associates
degree concurrently with her high school diploma). Anna is now back working
in Moab, recently taking a position with Four Corners Mental Health.
Dina also has two teenage sons, both of whom will attend GCHS in the
fall. Donnie, 17, will be a senior and Luke, 14, will be a freshman.
Donnie plans to graduate early and leave in February 2006 to attend Wyotech
in Laramie, Wyo. and study auto mechanics.
In addition to Dina’s four older children, she and David have a
son together, Hayden Lance, a 3-year-old diaper-clad toddler who enjoys
playing with cars and trucks.
keep pretty busy around here,” says Dina, nonetheless relishing
her much-appreciated summer break. She and David recently moved their
former home off its foundation to one of their rental properties off
Millcreek Drive. For the past three weeks, they’ve been trying
to remodel the trailer home that took its place. Eventually, they plan
to construct a log house on the west side of their property.
“We’re doing everything on our own,” says Dina of the home
construction projects that have left their living quarters - just south of the
old Murphy homestead on Murphy Lane - in a bit of disarray.
Dina notes that she and David are both descended from pioneer families
that have lived here for generations. “My mother’s a Murphy
and my dad’s a Johnson,” Dina notes. “Their families
have lived here in the Moab area since 1887.”
After finishing high school, David worked in the auto body business for
nearly two decades, working at a variety of shops before running his
own for about five years. Finally, he closed that one and went to work
for the school district as a swing-shift custodian. In addition to managing
rental properties (both business and residential) with Dina, he still
manages to do a little auto body work on the side. He’s currently
restoring a 1960s Ford Mustang for an acquaintance.
“We both have very similar interests,” says David of his and Dina’s
hobbies. They share a love for woodworking, and always have several projects
under way. They also enjoy being outdoors, where they like to camp and fish.
were actively involved in activities while attending GHCS. Dina played
JV basketball and David was the school’s Sterling Scholar in vocational
education. Dina’s older children have also been involved in various
sports and activities: Jestin played football and soccer, Anna was on
the drill team, and Luke plans to wrestle in high school.
Dina says she attended college in California, but didn’t complete
her degree until several years later, after she had moved back to Moab. “I
always wanted to be a teacher, but at first I wanted to be a band or
music teacher,” she says. “But then my interest turned to
computer science for awhile. Also, writing has always been a passion
of mine - I love to write children’s literature.”
Dina eventually settled on elementary education, taking classes through
the USU extension office in Moab until she became a certified elementary
teacher. A couple of years ago, she passed a test that allowed her to
switch to secondary education.
“Teaching is a hard job,” she acknowledges. “But it’s
extremely rewarding. That’s why I’m doing this - I like the kids.
I remember what it’s like to be in junior high school.”
Both David and Dina have fond memories of several of their middle school
and high school teachers, many of whom still live in Moab.
“Al Heaton was a favorite for
both of us,” says David. “We both took wood
shop all four years of high school.”
Another favorite teacher of David’s was Mark Knowley, whose welding
expertise helped David launch his career in auto body work. “Also,
Donna Brownell, who just retired, I had her when she was first starting
out as a teacher. then this year, her final year at Grand County High,
I had the chance to get reacquainted with her,” says David. “I
sort of followed her career from beginning to end.”
One of Dina’s favorite high school teachers was English teacher
Darwin Gilger. “He was just a good friend - someone you could talk
to,” recalls Dina.
Dina also enjoyed P.E. and geography teacher Ron Pierce for his “good
sense of humor.”
Dina remembers going with Coach Pierce on a lengthy driver’s ed.
road session, when she drove as far as the Needles District in Canyonlands
National Park, only to notice that the gas gauge was on empty. “He
got after me for not checking the gauge before we left town,” she
recalls. “I don’t know how we made it all the way back to
Moab, but somehow we did.”
Other favorite teachers include Obid Hamblin and Jim Walker, both of
whom also still live in Moab. “That’s one of the positive
things about going to school in a small town like Moab,” Dina observes. “Our
teachers that we had in school are our friends now. We just have all
these good hometown relationships.”