Lori Hunt and Superintendent Bob Dolezal presented Aaron Hansen (right) with a special statue in honor of Hansen’s tenure as White Pine Middle School’s principal. (Lukas Eggen photo)

Lori Hunt and Superintendent Bob Dolezal presented Aaron Hansen (right) with a special statue in honor of Hansen’s tenure as White Pine Middle School’s principal. (Lukas Eggen photo)

By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

White Pine County School District Superintendent Bob Dolezal, White Pine Middle School Principal Sharyl Allen and the WPMS staff held a special ceremony Tuesday morning to honor former principal Aaron Hansen. Hansen, who left WPMS to take a regional job helping out schools and administrators, was at the middle school for the previous seven years. Hansen’s new role is assisting schools with what he has learned during his career and it’s his time at the middle school that the staff celebrated.

“We’ve got lots of reasons to celebrate at White Pine Middle School,” Allen said. “…A couple weeks ago the news broke that we made that very difficult climb to a four-star school, but we had one person who wasn’t there who needs to be recognized and acknowledged for his leadership, for his vision, for his passion and for his love of the students and (the staff).”

Dolezal presented Hansen with a special “star polisher” statue in honor of Hansen’s service to the school during his tenure as principal. And for Dolezal, one of Hansen’s greatest accomplishments can be seen by the staff who has remained at the school during his years at principal.

“I think one of the greatest compliments you can have with Aaron is some of you were transferred into this school against your will…and then when there was an opportunity to leave, you chose to stay,” Dolezal said. “I think that’s a great compliment to the staff who was here to meet you and the process you’ve gone through. I’m very proud of the fact that you’ve made that commitment to this school.”

Hansen, who attended the ceremony with his parents, said he was surprised by the gesture but that no matter where he goes, he will always consider himself part of White Pine Middle School.

“You guys know how I feel,” Hansen said. “It’s been a great opportunity for me. I spent seven amazing years here and it’s been a ton of fun. I shared this with Sharyl yesterday, I visit with other schools in the region and even elsewhere and this is still my school. When I talk about White Pine Middle School, I always say my school, so it will always be my school.”

Numerous staff members also spoke and thanked Hansen for his service to the school.

The school’s four-star ranking in the Nevada System Performance Framework represented an increase from its three-star ranking the school year before. The ratings look at a variety of factors, including attendance, test scores, student growth and more. And while the middle school scored highest of any school in the school district, Hansen said it’s not a reflection on him, but rather on the staff that he worked with.

“This is really, really nice,” Hansen said. “As awkward as this makes me feel, it’s a really nice gesture. The reason it makes me feel awkward because our four-star status really isn’t that unusual and it’s not that surprising and it shouldn’t be because the system we designed has been designed around making kids grow…as much as I’d like to say it has much to do with me, I think more than anything it has to do with (the staff) so this really should be a shared award.”