Football coach and teacher Mike Stoll, Jim Bartow with maintenance/grounds and para-professional educator Rhonda Palmer were honored at the board meeting with a farewell event and gifts.
Board president Jamie White said the district will miss the trio, and “everything they’ve done for the schools.”
Each of them agreed there was no place they would rather have worked.
“This is very moving for me,” Bartow said.
“I couldn’t have found a better place to work with any better people. It was a great ride for me and I did a lot of stuff in my life, but by far, this has been the highlight of my career — being here and having my daughter come here. It’s been quite a ride for me and I’ve really enjoyed it. I miss everyone like crazy, but I’ll come back to visit.”
Bartow agreed to come back and help with football game duties, but said it will be bittersweet since Stoll also announced his retirement.
“I’m going to miss him like crazy,” he said.
Bartow said while “we move on and we enjoy it,” there’s one part of his life that will never change.
“I was given a T-shirt that said ‘Rider for Life,’ and that’s me,” he said. “I’m a lifer here. Whatever happens, I’m always going to be Western.”
Stoll agreed this was the “best place” he could have worked, adding that he’s seen “some of the best kids, some of the hardest working ones” in the district.
“Now I’ve been to three schools — Edison, Keystone and here — and this place is above all of them,” Stoll told the board.
“There’s diversity and you don’t always get that. The families have always been supportive — not just athletically, but academically too with what gets done here in the schools. I’m going to miss that part of it.
“I’m proud to say I’m a Roughrider.”
For the coach and teacher, he said the hardest part of retired life will be “not doing football in the fall — it might make me crazy.”
“I’m going to miss the Friday nights,” he said. “We added it up and it will be the first time in 45 years that life hasn’t revolved around football, so it’ll be different. It’ll be a challenge and there are going to be a lot of things that I’m going to miss.”
Palmer said it’s the people that she’s going to miss the most.
“There are a lot of good people in this community — kids and staff, parents. I’m very proud to be here,” she said, beginning to choke up.
“There’s a lot of good people here. I was very proud to work here and I (already) miss it a lot. It’s been an honor and I’ve made a lot of friends with the staff. We have a lot of precious kids in this school system and I thank you (for allowing me be a part that).”