David Douglas High School’s Principal trades office for outdoor adventures

What will Randy Hutchinson be doing when school starts this fall? Find out the answer right here …

Standing in the doorway of his office at David Douglas High School for one of the last times, Randy Hutchinson says he looks forward to retirement.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When the first school bell rings in September, life-long educator Randy Hutchinson says he hopes to be fishing. Hutchinson won’t be playing hooky, mind you; the life-long educator is retiring from his post as Principal at David Douglas High School.

“I started out in Portland Public Schools in 1974,” Hutchinson reminisces.  “From there I went to Sandy and stayed for 20 years before coming to David Douglas High in 1995. It’s been a great run; yes, it’s been a great run. And yes, I’m looking forward to retiring, very much so.”

At the end-of-school-year barbecue, more than 300 teachers and support staff members gather to give Hutchinson a warm send-off – and to have a great lunch! Volunteers from the David Douglas High Parent Teacher Student Association prepare and serve the meal.

Maintains high standards
We ask Hutchinson what he considers his greatest challenge to have been, moving from Vice Principal to the top spot at the school in the past few years.

“It was tough to follow in his footsteps of our school’s previous Principal, John Herrington, because he did such a phenomenal job,” Hutchinson replies. “Our entire staff has worked hard to make sure we maintain the high standards he set. We’ve continued to accomplish that. That’s why I feel good about retiring now.”

Shane Sykes, Melissa Meeks and Rachel Burggraff from the SE 122nd & Stark Street Burgerville restaurant are cooking up burgers for the event.

Providing meaningful education
Most significant, Hutchinson says, is that the school’s staff has stayed true to their mission and vision. “We’re headed in the right direction; we’ve maintained the integrity of our high academic standards and graduation requirements,” smiles Hutchinson.

“Our kids – 70% of whom are in poverty – 90% of them are going on to post-secondary education – that is phenomenal.” Additionally, Hutchinson says that Oregon higher education studies show that, of those David Douglas students who go into the universities, after a year and a half most of them are still in school. “These are all great numbers. We have a great staff and great kids – you can’t ask for more than that.”

Randy Hutchinson shares a light moment with staff members at the luncheon.

‘Kids are kids’
We ask Hutchinson if, during his educational career, he’s seen changes in schools over the years.

“Nothing has really changed,” Hutchinson replies. “Kids are kids. Trends come and go, but the reality is that they all need the same thing: Caring adults in their life, who push them further than they think they’re capable of going. I think we have a school full of teachers who are doing that well.”

Hutchinson gives DDHS PTSA outgoing president Karen Britton a plaque for her service. “I really appreciate all of your support over the years,” Britton says. “I’ll still be involved, and I look forward to helping out our new president coming on board. Please support the new president as you’ve supported me.”

Thanks community for support
Hutchinson goes on, saying that instead of being thanked for his service, it’s he who thanks the community for their support. We ask him what he’d like to say directly to the people in the school district.

“It’s been a real honor to serve you and your students,” responds Hutchinson.  “Our parents are incredibly supportive, and that makes all the difference in the world. It makes a difference when you call home and get a positive response; having the trust of the parents is very important. They reflect that by the way they vote [on bond issues]. It’s been a great place to be.”

As part of the farewell gathering, PTSA board member James Hollett gives Hutchison a wrapped and heavy gift. It turns out to be a brick – which will be engraved, and installed under the school’s flagpole in recognition of his service to the school.

Plans outdoor adventures
If Hutchinson puts as much energy into outdoor sports as he has into being a good Principal, fish and fowl in the region have much to fear.

“I love the out of doors,” Hutchinson tells us with a big smile. “I love to fish, and fly fishing is a definite passion of mine. And I love to do some game bird hunting.”

Hutchinson adds, “the best salmon runs in Alaska are in September and October – months that are critical to getting the school year off to a good start.” Those are months he’s never been able to fish in – and now he will!

New principal chosen
According to officials at the David Douglas School District, John Bier has been named the school’s new Principal. Bier has worked in the district for about 19 years, and was Vice Principal at David Douglas High.

Teachers and staff members sign the guest book (bottom left corner), and write their farewell messages to Hutchison, at the event.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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