Weekly Feature

2011-06-02 / Lifestyles

Once a Redskin, always a Redskin

Paveljack says goodbye to Lancaster High

Dan Paveljack stands before Lancaster High School, where in June he will retire after 21 years as principal. 
Photo by Scott Schild . Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Dan Paveljack stands before Lancaster High School, where in June he will retire after 21 years as principal. Photo by Scott Schild . Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com I t’s hard to imagine the gold nameplate on the the principal’s office door saying anything but “Daniel G. Paveljack.”

Yet, after 20 years in the post, Paveljack plans to retire from the top job at Lancaster High School at the end of this school year.

Paveljack hasn’t spent his entire career in the Lancaster schools. He graduated from Lackawanna High School in 1965 and went on to Buffalo State College. He then returned to his alma mater in 1969, beginning his career in education as an industrial arts teacher.

Later, he enrolled in a doctoral program at the University at Buffalo, where he earned an ABD — All But Dissertation — in education. Afterward, he held administrative positions for both Erie 1 BOCES and Warsaw High School.

In 1991, Paveljack took a drive to Lancaster High School with his wife, Shirlee, before his interview for the principal position.

“I can still recall pulling into the parking lot that day,” he said. “I looked up at the building and said, ‘Oh my gosh, look at the size of this school,’” he laughed.

Paveljack said working as an administrator throughout the years has taught him useful coping skills and how important it is to be a good listener. He said while everyone has bad days, the school has had a way of reminding him what he loves most about his job: walking the halls and talking with the students and staff.

“I think it’s the amount of school spirit that exists here,” he said while glancing out his office window. “When I personally have a tough day, I get up and out of this office and go into the fieldhouse or the cafeteria or auditorium. I talk with everyone, and it just reminds me of why I’m here.”

Some refer to the school as an area empire, which prides itself on hundreds of programs, dozens of academies and one mission: making each and every student a success. Lancaster

High School has 162 teachers and more than 2,000 students, all of whom remind Paveljack every day that he is meant to be where he is.

A few of the teachers and staff members at Lancaster High

School spoke about their experiences with Paveljack.

Bill Bevington, health teacher

“Dan Paveljack is the second principal I have been able to work with during my teaching career while at Lancaster. I have to say, even though we may not have always seen eye to eye on some things, he has been a dedicated, fair person to work for. He has had to make some decisions that people may not always have agreed with but after all was said and done those decisions were in the school’s best interest.”

Judy Roll, food service helper

“Every day, Dan stops in and greets us with a smile. He has always made it very well known he appreciates everything we do to contribute to this high school. You always see him out at school functions and you can tell he loves what he does. We see him stop in the faculty lounge daily and he has always been a big supporter of our lunch program. We know he’s a fan of our soup and salad bar.”

Nancy Mariani, art teacher

“Dan and I were hired the same year. As a principal, he has always been there for the art department. Dan believes in order for kids to do well overall, they have to have their electives. Whether it’s art, music, technology or athletics, he supports us all. He’s never missed an event I’ve ever invited him to, which is pretty impressive. He values our opinions, trusts our judgement and allows us to do our jobs. Throughout the years, I’ve found he has the greatest sense of humor as well. He’s a wonderful man, and he will be sorely missed.”

Ursula Lundgard, social studies teacher

“I was the union president for five years and that can mean confrontations with the building principal, but not so with Dan. He always had an open door for me to discuss problems and we could always come up with a compromise. His respectful attitude and positive outlook helped with many resolutions. I never felt that he was talking down to me. I was always treated as an equal partner in the culture of the school. His wisdom and encouragement will be missed.

During my first few years as a teacher, he encouraged my teaching style, which was to have the students move around the room, work in groups and sit on windowsills instead of just lecturing. In the late ’80s, this was considered ‘new’ and I will always be grateful Dan saw the potential in this type of teaching and allowed me to grow as a teacher.” While Paveljack has no set plans on what he’ll do during retirement, he said he will not be sitting on a park bench, adding that he has already reviewed the very long ‘Honey Do’ list his wife has developed for him.

It’s apparent the name “Daniel G. Paveljack” is woven into the fabric of what has made Lancaster High School all it stands for today. Being in education for 41 years, he admits that he is most proud of being a principal of LHS for 21 of them.

“It’s going to take a while to debrief and get back to a ‘normal’ life,” he said as his eyes welled up. “But you know what we say around here: ‘Once you’re a Redskin, you’re always a Redskin.’” email: jolenez@beenews.com

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