‘And as always, go Cards’

Brouwer’s last days as principal remind SHS of her positive changes

And as always, go Cards

Ximena Sarinana, Reporter

Fourteen minutes had passed since the interview began. Principal Barbara Brouwer was asked “What is the one thing you want people at SHS to remember you as?” For many seconds after the question was asked, silence filled the room. Brouwer looked towards the window and at her entwined hands. She puckered her lips as if to stop herself from tearing up and took a deep breath before answering.

“A person who truly loved people and tried to help each one find good within themselves to be successful,” she said slowly, letting every word sink in.

Earlier this semester, Brouwer announced she was going to retire after this school year. Being the principal for 10 years means Brouwer has left changes at SHS that will keep her legacy going even after she leaves.

Brouwer says that when she first came to SHS in 2006, the school was a “one-size-fits-all” type of school. There were not a lot of choices that students were allowed to make concerning their own education. To Brouwer, this was the reason for so many students dropping out of school. She was on a mission to change that.

Brouwer says that she and the staff wanted to make every SHS student feel valued so they could graduate on time and take the next step into their desired career or education field. To accomplish this goal, she gave the seniors more freedom in order to mirror a college more closely. This freedom came by allowing seniors unassigned lunch and unassigned study hall.

Not only did Brouwer give seniors more freedom at school, but she also wanted more  course options for students who desired a more rigorous schedule.

Brouwer says that when she first started, there were only about seven or eight  AP classes to choose from. Now, there are 22 AP and 9 DC classes. Brouwer also gave students the option to take blended and dual credit classes, since there were almost none when she first became principal. This change, she says, gives every student a say in their education.

Senior Alexis Meier has taken AP classes for the past two years and believes more AP diversity can benefit all students.

“I think it is great for the fact that people who are going to college have the option to save money and it challenges us and it opens up more opportunity,” Meier said.

The rooms that these AP courses were going to be taught in were also being changed drastically, and for the majority of 2013 and 2014, the school was under major construction. The initial plan was to simply add to the back of the school, but according to assistant principal Amy Boone, that was not good enough for Brouwer. She had bigger aspirations for the school and knew that a simple add-on would not be what was best for SHS at the time.

Brouwer called in a professional architect to design the building and discuss her ideas, which were inspired by her ambitions and those of other administrators. The long and thought-out process included the architect designing the school and Brouwer and administrators discussing the plans the architect came up with. Then, the architect would draw a new design based on their suggestions and the whole process would begin again. This went on for months until everyone was completely happy with the result.

When the desired design was completed, the administration took it to superintendent Dr. Thomas Little and the school board for approval. According to Brouwer, Little and the school board liked the plan even more than what they had originally envisioned for SHS. Brouwer says she is very proud of what the school looks like now, and when past students come back to visit the school, she says, they always compliment the new layout.

“Now, when you walk in, it’s not a hallway that dead ends and it’s dark and dingy,” Brouwer said.   “It’s this big, beautiful, open hallway… It’s a whole different feel now.”

Brouwer has changed the school physically and educationally, but she has also changed the people around her, according to Boone. Brouwer says that over the years SHS has become a home away from home for her. The way SHS students act is something Brouwer is very proud of. Brouwer says that there have been many occurrences when visitors are welcomed into SHS by students who have offered to hold the door open for them.  

Senior Charles Stroub is one SHS student who feels a special closeness to Brouwer since he will be among the last student’s who will receive his diploma while she is still principal.

“Brouwer has definitely impacted my life she tries to help me in any way (so) I can try to succeed in anything in whatever I want to do. Anytime she gets a chance she’ll help me,” Stroub said.

Brouwer says 10 years ago, when she first entered as principal, the SHS sports teams were not doing well. The first sport she says she wanted to see succeed at school was football only because it’s the main sport that a lot of people go to at the beginning of the year. According to Brouwer, if a group or sport succeeds, whether it is the Journal or the football team, students will feel proud to be from SHS and participate more in school activities.

With Brouwer in her office next door, Boone said she thinks of the one thing she will remember Brouwer for.

“Her idea…of working as a team, that is one thing I will always remember,” Boone said. “That feeling that we are all in this together.”