The school district offered a retirement incentive this year as part of the 5 year budget plan. Fifteen employees took advantage of the incentive. I will spend the next month or so profiling the people that took advantage of the incentive and have served the students and community of the Ridgway Area School District.
The first two people have spent a combined 76 years working for the school district. Sandi Hanes and Bill Connelly have been an integral part of the school community for many years. Mr. Connelly started teaching English at the high school in 1971 with Mr. Jim Donavan his first principal. Throughout his 28 years in the classroom he taught everything from English Literature to Stage Design. Mr. Connelly also directed many student plays and musicals at Ridgway with his most memorable being “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. After 28 years in the classroom, Mr. Connelly moved into the principal’s chair where he served as a high school and middle school principal for 12 years. It is difficult for anyone to condense a 40 year career, but I asked Mr. Connelly what was his fondest memory of his time at Ridgway. Although there are many, he told me about one time in particular:
“One of my fondest memories was when I was high school principal and I had the opportunity to present a World War II veteran with his diploma. He had enlisted before graduation and never received his diploma. The veteran’s family contacted me and requested that he receive his diploma. Dr. Grandinetti authorized the diploma. Signatures were obtained, and I presented him with his diploma on stage during graduation. The expression on his face as he received his diploma was priceless.”
Mrs. Hanes started working for the school district in 1975 as a substitute and a teacher aid. In 1976 she was hired as a Spanish language teacher. Throughout the years Mrs. Hanes has been very active as a sponsor for clubs and sports. She has served as the cheerleading advisor for 35 years and student council advisor for 33 years. During her time as a teacher at Ridgway Mrs. Hanes has also served as a ski club advisor and assistant National Honor Society advisor. In 1979 Mrs. Hanes started taking the Spanish Club to Mexico every year. Starting in 2002 these trips were changed to yearly trips to Spain. Both Mrs. Hanes and Mr. Connelly have become woven into the fabric of Ridgway Area school District. I wish them well next year and they will be missed. I am also confident that both Mr. Connelly and Mrs. Hanes will give over 100% to the school district and the students right up until the last day they are here!