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Parkland High School Confidential: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of Parkland.

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Parkland High School Confidential: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of Parkland.
by Kal Russell - Monday, 31 January 2022, 1:17 PM

Parkland High School Confidential: Hey Mickey!

Last week was the end of semester one at Parkland, and students and staff were busy wrapping up their courses and making sure that students finished off the semester successfully.  

In Secondary school, the semester marks the end of their courses at Parkland for some students. Some students have met their graduation requirements and have moved on to University or college. Others are enrolled in district trades programs and work off-campus for the second semester. And a handful of international students have returned home.   

It is the same for our staff. This year two of our staff have retired. Friday, Jan 28, 2022, marked Mrs. Pam Harrison’s and Mr. Mickey Ftizgerald’s last day at Parkland. Our social committee did little things all last week to send them off in a way that says thank you. Both Pam and Mickey have worked at Parkland for over 30 years.  

Mrs. Harrison’s send-off involved flowers, a sash, cards and kind words. As an Educational Assistant, her quiet and calm way have made students feel safe, supported and important for three decades.    

Our other retiree is our Judo Sensei and a Social Studies teacher Mr. Mickey Fitzgerald. Mickey has a flair for spinning a great yarn in Social Studies class and throwing Judo students with a mean shoulder roll. His send-off involved lunches, playful teasing from both staff and students and buttons with his face on them on all our staff’s shirts for the week.  

Numerous times last week, while I would walk down the hallways with my Grand Master Mickey Pin firmly attached to my shirt, students would stop me, “Hey Mr. Russell, where can I get a Fitzy pin?” and they would often continue with something like, “I need to get me one of those or those are awesome!”

I would respond with, “Ms. McNamee is handing them out.” And she was handing them out, so it seemed like a good reply. Maybe I should have thought that response through more.  

And then I heard Ms. McNamee’s voice chasing after me in the hallway, “Hey, Mr. Russell, get back here!” Now nobody ignores Ms. McNamee, so I stopped and took my medicine. “Stop telling kids I have Mickey pins. I only bought 75 for the staff, and everyone wants a Mickey pin. I don’t have enough for the hundreds of students that Mickey has impacted over the years. So stop sending them to me!”  

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied, and then I quoted Toni Basil and added, “But everybody wants one because he’s so fine he blows our mind, Hey Mickey.” 

Ms. McNamee clapped twice before shooing me away.

And then I smiled because it is fantastic to know that teachers like Mickey and EA’s like Pam make such a big impact on high school students. All students need to have a sense of belonging at school, and it takes a diverse staff with different personalities and passions to make sure that all students have that person in the school. We are lucky to have that staff a Parkland.  

At Parkland, the staff and students will miss Mickey Fitzgerald and Pam Harrison, but our staff will continue to do their best to find ways to connect with all our students. Mickey believes this is the key to a great school and why he loved working at Parkland for all those years.  The kids at Parkland tell me they feel connected to our school, which is a great thing.  

“Hey, Mickey and Pam. It’s guys like you that make a school great! You take us by the heart, and you take us by the hand,” and you made sure that all students at Parkland knew that they belonged. 

Parkland staff and students thank you both for the years of great work and wish you retirements filled with new adventures.  

Panther Pride!