While graduation is still several months away, the Hart High family hosted a send-off for two of their own Thursday with a surprise campuswide tribute.
Collyn Nielsen and John Turner, the school’s former principal and assistant principal, were both promoted recently, and to show their appreciation, students and staff gathered at lunchtime to say thanks with music, a few words of gratitude and of course a communal rendition of the Indians’ alma mater.
“I think this is just an example of what Hart High is all about,” Nielsen said, adding he was told to be prepared to address students, but he wasn’t told he and Turner would be the guests of honor. “It was a great example of the family feel, and we’re just a small village here taking care of each other, and looking out for each other, and that was exemplified by the activities here today.”
Nielsen joined Hart High in 1998, before any of its current students were born. But his promotion won’t move him too far from the campus he’s called home for 20 years, as he was recently named Chief Administrative Officer.
In this position, Nielsen will take on some of the responsibilities of the chief operations officer role, which is currently vacant. He will also cover maintenance and operations, facilities and emergency preparedness. Nielsen joined the Hart District in 1992 as an English teacher.
Turner is staying even closer to “home,” literally, as he’s taking over at Placerita Junior High School as principal, the feeder school for Hart High that’s about three-tenths of a mile away.
“My experience here has been incredible,” Turner said, noting the upcoming graduation would have been his 14th with the school, having watched all three of Nielsen’s children graduate from Hart and all four of his own. “The nice part for me is that I’m not going that far away. I get to sort of go in reverse in time and help get the little ones prepared to actually come here.”