by Sofia Colignon | news editor
Sitting in his office, a million things on his mind, principal John Mehlbrech begins to prepare for his retirement, which will happen at the beginning of the semester. As he says his goodbyes to the faculty and students, he also makes sure that the school is left better than how he found it when he took the job nine years ago.
“It was time, you know, when you get to a point where you feel like there needs to be more done, but you just don’t have the energy anymore. It’s about finding out that maybe a new set of eyes can come in and look at what’s going on, and tweek things I might be missing now,” Mehlbrech said.
Mehlbrech is looking forward to spending more time with his family and not have to worry about a routine.
“[I’m looking forward] to not having to be concerned so much about the day to day routine of being in high school. I’m just kind of looking forward to being at home and doing some things I’ve neglected over the years, spending more time with the family, watching my girl play basketball, those kinds of things,” Mehlbrech said.
He’s also looking forward to finding out what this next chapter means for him.
“Obviously, it’s like any adventure, you really don’t know, so it’s kind of scary. But I’m looking forward to seeing what’s out there, and see what other opportunities are available and look at my next phase in life,” Mehlbrech said.
He doesn’t discard the possibility of trying a second career.
“I’m young enough to still be able to try a second career, something that’s different. I’ve been doing this for 31 years, and it’s just time for me to see what’s out there in 2019,” Mehlbrech said.
One of Mehlbrech’s favorite things about being part of this community is watching the kids do what they love.
“I really enjoy the kids, I enjoy being around the kids and watching them perform, whether it’s on the field, or the gym, or in the theatre, the art… It’s all really cool, to see and watch the successes that happen with that. So I’m going to miss a lot of that going to the games, going to the concerts… And I’m not saying that I won’t, because I’ll pop in here and there, but that’s probably the biggest thing I’m gonna miss, just being able to do that, and just watch everyone grow up,” Mehlbrech said.
He also stated how proud he is of the students and the community they’ve all created.
“I think the biggest thing I’m really proud about Johnson High School is how the kids behave on the day to day. They’re always respectful, they’re always polite, I mean, you have those that still struggle with that, but, you know, overall, when you look at 3000 teenagers in one spot, I really enjoy watching kids do things for other kids. I get stories at times, about how kids are helping those who are less fortunate, whether it’s helping them go up the stairs, getting them somewhere. I think that’s really cool and really neat. And the fact that we just go out there and we do everything we can as hard as we can. That model, ‘Not to equal, but to excel,’ I’ve seen that a lot in different areas, and so that’s just fun to watch,” Mehlbrech said.
According to Mehlbrech, Johnson is a very special place, and its strong suit is its modesty when it comes to victories and successes.
“All schools have their good points and all schools have their bad points, but I think Johnson, when I came nine years ago, I set the challenge, you know, what makes us different? What sets up apart from other high schools? And I think, to me, it’s more along the lines of what kids are able to do. They do it in a manner that’s modest, they’re not bragging about it, they just know that this is what they do, and this is the expectation of what they do. So, I think that, what sets us apart is that we have that innate ability to succeed without having to brag about it. But they still find a way to show that success, where others say they’re successful, but we don’t have to go out and announce it,” Mehlbrech said.
Gary Comalander, former principal of Bush Middle School will be taking Mehlbrech’s place, starting the second semester.
“I really appreciate the kids that have been here, I have been with this community for a lot of years, and I’m just appreciative of getting the opportunity to see it grow, to see the successes that have come with it, I love going to the games, I love going to the concerts, I love the way that they act, and the fact that they just appreciate us. They’re working hard for our teachers, and I really appreciate that,” Mehlbrech said.