Hellgate Staff Say Adieu

Devyn Deschamps, Reporter

Hellgate staff is the pinnacle of school spirit, and truly are the ones who keep the school running smoothly. So as the end of the year comes closer, the many staff members saying good-bye comes as a bittersweet surprise. They reflected on their time as a Knight.

Nick Grener, a 10-year math veteran, is leaving to pursue further education in Statistics at University of Iowa.

Favorite aspect of Hellgate: “Every day, people smile at me in the halls and genuinely ask how I am doing, and I see that type of interaction happening all over the building. We are lucky to have a large, diverse community of people who are looking out for each other.”

Specific memory at Hellgate: “When I get notes/emails from former students telling me that they found my class inspiring, or found some other non-mathematical inspiration in life and just want to share it with me, it makes my day. I hold onto those.”

Advice to future teachers and students: To future teachers: “If you’re having fun in the classroom, your students will, too. If you’re not, they won’t. But some weeks it can be hard to have fun even half of the time so be kind to yourself. To students: There is so so so much to learn about the world. Find something you are interested in, persist at it, and you will be richly rewarded.”

English teacher Jessica Gustafson, is leaving to Richmond, Washington, to continue her teaching career.

Favorite aspect of Hellgate: “Students at Hellgate are, I think, so kind, like there is compassion for other students and also the world; this care for making the world a better place that I see like, very strongly, and that’s really inspiring to me. I love getting to just learn alongside students in that way.”

Specific memory at Hellgate: “My first year of teaching,.. In order to hype my seniors up for Frankenstein, I brought in all these little battery operated tea light candles and turned off the lights. I think I projected an old gothic castle on the board… And the kids had no idea that I was doing it when they walked in. Then they were like, what is happening?…”

Advice to future teachers and students: “The teacher who inspired me to become a teacher, the advice that he gave me when I went back to visit him. He was like, “oh, just be yourself.”… It’s so cliche, but over the years I’m realizing that it’s just so true. Just be who you are.”

Hellgate’s Assistant principal, Susie Bageant will also be leaving Hellgate to become Meadow Hill Middle School’s next Principal.

Favorite aspect of Hellgate: “I have absolutely loved the students, staff and all of the amazing school spirit here at Hellgate! I have never worked in a school that has so much pride and identity and it has been a blast!”

Specific memory at Hellgate: “Making, and then winning Gertie the Golden GOAT that first time! So much energy and excitement and anticipation!!”

Advice to future teachers and students: “Enjoy every minute of being a Hellgate Knight! It is a unique and exciting place to be and you will miss it when you leave!!”

Finally, the well-known Zandy Startin is retiring this year, after 30 years of teaching, 18 of which have been at Hellgate.

Favorite aspect of Hellgate: “There isn’t just one, I’m afraid. I’m a Knight for Life. I graduated from Hellgate in 1978. I took Geometry in the same room I’ve been teaching in. Many of the people I’ve met at Hellgate will be friends for life. All the students I’ve had the privilege of knowing and teaching have been a huge part why I love Hellgate.”

Specific memory at Hellgate? “Walking out when I graduated in 1978 saying, literally, “I’ll never set foot in this f****** building again,” and then returning only to find out it’s one of the best places to be in the world.”

Advice to future teachers and students: “Never lower your bar. It’s far better to have high expectations for yourself (teachers and students alike) and not quite reach it, than to have a low bar that – even reached – gives you no reason to feel good about what you’ve accomplished. And, to students, know that your teachers will work just as hard as you to help you make it over that high bar! You just have to reach out to them when you need help. And that’s something we all need to learn to do in life.”

Startin also wanted to tell everyone that despite her departure not going the way she intended, “I want to wish all of Hellgate’s community – teachers and former/current/future students – all the very best in the future. I’m sure our students will continue to make us proud and do wonderful things with their lives.”

This year, Alan Pfister, Terry Huetter, and Sage Bryden will also be leaving the Hellgate community; but was not able to comment.

The legacy that these teachers have made will be carried on for years to come, and the impact they’ve made on students will be carried on for a lifetime. Once a Knight, always a Knight!