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Celebrating our people

New Castle High School teachers Bill Wesseler, left, and Ron Grimes were seated next toNew Castle alumand current Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick during Friday’s program. Both men have been teachers for 50 years.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

The Trojans set aside part of Friday afternoon to say congratulations and good job to some special people at New Castle High School.

As students began filling Bundy Auditorium around 2 p.m., they got to enjoy a slideshow featuring long-time teachers Ron Grimes and Bill Wesseler.

The giant screen on stage showed yearbook photos, club pictures and team sports photos chronicling the two teachers across 50 years of teaching at New Castle.

Each new year brought a popular song from the era, which had the students of 2018 cheering and dancing in their seats. 

Grimes and Wesseler are both known for their positive attitudes and the passion for the subjects they teach: math and social studies. 

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick, a New Castle graduate from the Class of 1988, was the keynote speaker of the afternoon.

McCormick said Wesseler and Grimes hit a monumental threshold in their careers that few people reach, let alone attempt.

Only 40 of the 79,833 teachers in Indiana today have reached 50 years, McCormick said.

“Our jobs are complex and they are difficult, but it’s days like today when it’s so rewarding,” McCormick said.

McCormick said it can sometimes be difficult to find a term for people who teach as long as Wesseler and Grimes have.

School boards might call them “top of the scale,” other teachers might call them “experienced.” Veteran teachers might also sometimes be referred to as “post-retirement age.”

“But I’ll tell you what we call them – and everyone in this room should call them – we call them heroes,” McCormick said.

McCormick said the two teachers have spent more than 9,000 days, more than 68,000 hours, teaching young people in the classroom.

“Mr. Wesseler and Mr. Grimes are truly heroes,” McCormick said. “It is my pleasure and my honor on the Department of Eduction to honor these two great men for the five decades of service to the students of New Castle.”

Everyone in Bundy Auditorium gave a standing ovation when Dr. McCormick introduced the teachers.

New Castle Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Matt Shoemaker and New Castle High School Principal Kirk Amman presented Wesseler and Grimes with Distinguished Hoosier Awards on behalf of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

“This award was created to recognize those who distinguished themselves through significant contributions to their communities, whose qualities and characteristics reflect the best of our state and whose actions endear them to the hearts and the minds of all Hoosiers,” Shoemaker said. “Fifty years of dedicated teaching is certainly a meaningful contribution to ones community.”

Shoemaker said all educators desire to have the kind of success and influence in their careers that Wesseler and Grimes had: the chance to make a true difference in the lives of students and to have meaningful impact on others.

“On behalf of the school board and the corporation, I thank you for your impressive 50 years of service and for making New Castle and the world a better place to be,” Shoemaker said.

During his comments, Shoemaker also thanked the Grimes and Wesseler families for the sacrifices they each made while supporting the teachers of the past five decades.

“A lot of times, we think teachers make sacrifices, and that is certainly true,” Shoemaker said. “But the families make sacrifices too and a lot of times, the families don’t get the recognition.”

New Castle sophomore Grayson Joslin was one of the driving forces behind the public recognitions of Wesseler and Grimes. Those two have defined what it is to be a New Castle Trojan, Joslin said.

“They are a fixture of this school,” Joslin said. “They have changed so many lives. On behalf of all the students who have gone through your class, thank you for everything you’ve done.”

The two long-time educators also both received special recognition from their alma maters.

Student-athletes recognized

Although the bulk of Friday’s ceremony was focused on the teachers, special time was included on the agenda to recognize the hard work of Trojan athletes.

“We have a slogan: ‘Celebrating our people,’” Principal Amman said. “We want to do great things, accomplish great things and then we want to celebrate accordingly.”

Amman started by acknowledging Annie Gillock, NCHS’s first girls golf state finalist since 2001.

He then introduced the repeat state champion Lady Trojans volleyball team. The team presented their state trophy onstage to Superintendent Shoemaker.

Amman said he is looking forward to the team making it a “three-peat” next year.

The convocation ended with a slideshow honoring the volleyball team.