I see our principal every single day. I’m pretty sure his secretary, Ms. Flanigan, has seen me so often that she can identify how urgently I need him merely based on my face and how I knock on the door. Maybe one third of the time, he’s in his office, surrounded by papers, a phone buzzing and a walkie talkie murmuring, but all other times, I’m hunting him down through Mason’s halls. He’s always working.

When he took over, I was skeptical at first. With Mr. Byrd gone, how would my senior year be impacted? I had been watching years of seniors under Mr. Byrd and was prepared and ready to take my spot in the senior sunshine filled with leaving school during my study hall and parking closer. With Mr. Hills taking the throne, what would happen?

Plot twist! It was better than I could have imagined. First of all, credit to my best friend and very rightfully elected class president Andrea Dilao, Mr. Hills allowed the senior class to receive senior privileges in early winter, as opposed to waiting until second semester.

Now, I know a lot of seniors were angry about the enforcement of the 18 year old declaration. Even the squirrels that live in the auditorium know that seniors have been using the 18 year old declaration to skip school in previous years. It’s understandable that in his turn at the helm, Hills decided to specify the exact privileges that this declaration contains and enforce them. To all the seniors who threw a fit, don’t even try to act like you weren’t planning on abusing this privilege. You can’t get mad because an administrator is doing their job and enforcing the law that requires you to be in school. If you were actually leaving school for a doctor’s appointment, then it’s no problem that your parent is calling the school or writing you a note to get you excused. Stop overreacting.

Another thing I’d like to recall was when parking got especially tight and administrators were forced to take action to make sure that juniors and seniors were parking in their respective lots. And while I watched my peers drag Hills through the mud, he actually was the reason that problem got solved. He talked to teachers and found that they were parking in the junior lot and helped them make other arrangements so that juniors would have their spots back and stop being forced to park in the senior lot. And the one day I was left without a spot as junior pulled into the last available senior spot, Hills himself came out to make the junior relocate to their lot.

Oh, and let’s remember when seniors were furious about the senior alcoves being painted over by their own classmates. First of all, that was so dumb and the alcoves look fine now without the crude drawings of genitalia all over it. When all of you just wanted someone to scream at, who stood there? Mr. Hills. He listened to every single one of you and took the heat for all other student-teacher interactions that were not even close to his fault. All of you were angry because another administrator or teacher had spoken to a few of you in a condescending tone but then you turned around and did the same thing to someone else but it was way louder and lasted way longer.

Why am I defending him when I spent the whole year fighting his role in this paper? Because while fighting for my right as a student journalist, I actually got to know my principal so much better than I ever would have. His schedule was always filled to the brim, but he found time to talk to me after a meeting or during a brisk walk from one office to the next.

And for all of you who continue to mourn Mr. Byrd, get over it. Yes, he was a great principal, but we have another great principal now. Stop comparing them. Start getting to know the man who is leading our school right here, right now.

Dear juniors, please treat our administration better than my class did. They all deserve respect. Just like the respect that Mr. Hills gave me every single day when he took the time to read The Lasso’s stories and ask about my classes and listen to my daily rants.

I’m jealous of the rest of you who remain here under his leadership and I am proud to be a graduating member of his first senior class.

Kate Karstens

Kate Karstens

Kate writes about news, sports, and national politics. Click for full bio.
Kate Karstens

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