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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chapleau High School principal Dr. Karl Hackstetter issues challenge that 'laziness, disregard of discipline' not tolerated in 1963

In 1963, after returning to Chapleau as principal of Chapleau High School, Dr. Karl A. Hackstetter spoke at the public school graduation ceremonies, directing his remarks at teachers, parents and students.

Forty-seven years later as schools prepare to open for another year, I found it interesting to reflect on Dr. Hackstetter's observations as reported by Margaret Costello in the Sudbury Star and think about their relevance to education in the 21st century. I will leave it to the reader to decide.

(CHS teaching staff in 1956-57 from left are Gerald Mino, principal George Lemon, Julia Riordan, Gladys Bowles, Clarence Fiaschetti, Dr, Karl Hackstetter. Photo at http://www.chapleau.com/)

Dr. Hackstetter first taught at Chapleau High School from 1954 to 1957, left and returned as principal in the Sixties. Although he was involved in the planning of the new high school, he left before it opened in 1966.

Referring to public school teachers, he said he felt they were more important than any others.

"You (public school teachers) can still mold what is given to you -- your personal example is imitated. We of the high school are technicians, specialists in the field of education. It is my sincere belief that your job is more difficult than ours. Also, if you fail, the consequences are more disastrous."

He also said it was rather sad that the high school teachers do not seem to have much in common with the public school teachers adding that when he suggested the two staffs meet together, he was told that such a meeting would be "frowned upon."

Addressing parents, Dr. Hackstetter said (and remember this was in 1963), "today - both inside and outside of school - are in no way comparable with what confronted them when they started high school or a job."

He added: "This means that you have to insist on the control of homework. Do not let yourself be talked into 'we have no homework today.' This is never true. There may be no assignments for a particular day but there is always homework..."

He felt that weekends should be kept for recreation except for a couple of hours on Sunday night to prepare for Monday. "Remember," he told the parents, "you are educating with us and don't shrink from this responsibility. If you parents fail you will have ruined your child's future and can blame no one but yourselves."

To the students, Dr, Hackstetter told the Grade 8 graduates that. "the toughest part of your life starts in September. Today you will have to give an honest day's work when you come to high school. Laziness, disregard of discipline will not be given the kid glove treatment, and the sooner this is learned rhe better.

"Each one of you is just one of 250 next year. You must realize the 250 will pull together in one direction toward a better life, and don't you dare to slow down249 just because you don't want to pull hard. We would like you to remember that, we, who know a little bit about life, always have the best for you in mind. I hope you believe that."

When Dr. Hackstetter first arrived in Chapleau in 1954, there were about 120 high school students. About 10 years later, it had doubled and a new school was needed.

Evelyn Lemieux was a CHS student in 1963 and shared some memories of the school and Dr. Hackstetter as principal. Evelyn recalled that he was really strict but an excellent math teacher, adding "actually "I really liked him." She also noted that he was "fair, strict and a great teacher." I can second Evelyn's comments having been a student at CHS when Dr. Hackstetter first taught there.

"I remember in the fall all of a sudden he would take the whole school for a nature walk. I also remember once we wanted to go jogging for gym but we needed a teacher to go with us - he came with us and boy we jogged. I remember to this day I almost died. He wouldn't allow us to take a break." Actually Dr. Hackstetter became famous for his "walks" which usually meant leaving from the school on Pine Street, where the Chapleau Civic Centre is now, over to the golf course and back to the school -- non stop of course.

During his time as principal, the school had no gymnasium as it was being used for classrooms. For a time, St. John's tennis court was used then he managed to rent a vacant room above the old Dominion store later Bank of Montreal building at Young and Birch, installed ping pong tables and everyone played. Evelyn also recalled that he held regular assemblies to keep students informed.

Charlie Purich, who in 1963 was referred to as 'the catalyst' of the hockey team said: "He was a great principal. He loved hockey and was a huge fan of CHS TEEM. He attended every game and would come over to the Redwood with us after the games. He was one of those "genuine" fans who never played the game but knew the value of sports and school. Even though he was a strict disciplinarian he was consistent with praise and students knew it was well meaning. The hockey team members were always inspired because of his interest."

Dr. Hackstetter taught me when I was in Grades nine and ten, and as I reflect back over the years and all the teachers I ever had, he was among the very best. The last time I visited with him was when he returned to Chapleau in the seventies in charge of a Ministry of Education reading van. I was teaching at CHS, and pouring myself a cup of coffee in the staff room with my back to the door when suddenly a voice from the past, instantly recognizable, shouted, "MORRIS" and I froze -- just like old times., but somehow I managed not to spill the coffee.

As Charlie and Evelyn noted Dr. Hackstetter was very much involved in school activities when he was principal and in 1956, as a teacher he directed 'Dough Crazy', a comedy in three acts, presented in conjuncttion with the school's annual commencement. The cast included Margaret Rose Fortin, Phyllis Chrusoskie, David McMillan, Harry Pellow, Loraine LeClerc, Robert Glowacki, James Evans, Donna Veit, Mary Serre and Michael Leigh.

The school choir under the direction of Miss Joan Lee also performed. Soloist was Carmen Pilon while a duet was presented by Rita O'Hearn and Bill Kemp. Pianist was Alison McMillan. Choir members included Theresa Donivan, Anne Marie Goldstein, Anne Lemieux, Shirley Potts, Madeleine Carroll, Gail Leon, Naomi Mizuguchi, Audrey Newman, Marion Pellow and Pauline Pilon.

Honour Secondary School Graduation diplomas were presented to Sadie Doyle, Phyllis Evans, John Futhey, Richard LeClerc and Gaetan Roussel, by Clarence Fiaschetti of the teaching staff, and the first CHS grad to return to teach at the school.

At the public school graduation ceremony where Dr. Hackstetter spoke in 1963, Ted Eveline was presented with the new best school citizen award by Mrs. Olive McAdam, noble grand of Sincerity Rebekah Lodge. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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