HONORED-Crivitz took time Friday afternoon to pay tribute to one of the districts most devoted employees, Mr. Gordon P. Rieden. In honor of his years of dedicated service to the Crivitz School District, the campus of the high school was named the Gordon P. Rieden Learning Center. Pictured from left are Mike Dama, Marinette County Circuit Court Judge James Morrison, Gordon Rieden and Gene Chapman.
Crivitz High School Campus Is Now Gordon P. Rieden Learning CenterIssue Date: May 24, 2018
"Crivitz Wisconsin has been blessed with many superb school board members, administrators, teachers, support staff and supporters and has produced extraordinarily accomplished students, but the standard by which all now must forever be judged is Gordon Rieden.
"Today we all acknowledge that and permanently preserve that by this dedication," Marinette County Circuit Court Judge James Morrison told the crowd at ceremonies on Friday, May 18 that changed the name of Crivitz High School to the Gordon P. Rieden Learning Center.
Weather was beautiful for the ceremonies that were held on the landing in front of the main entrance to the building that stands today in large part because of Rieden's early efforts to get it built. Construction of the building, completed in 1999, did not start until long after Rieden retired in 1992, but he had paved the way.
The audience included numerous past and present staff members, past and present school board members, community leaders, parents, former students and others Rieden's life had touched.
Crivitz School Board a few months ago voted unanimously to rename the high school campus in honor of Rieden. School Board President Mike Dama, opening the dedication ceremonies, introduced Rieden, who had served the district for 32 years, as teacher, guidance counselor and then as superintendent. (Mike Dama's father, Ken Dama, was school board president during part of the time that Rieden was superintendent.)
"He had tremendous impact on my life," Mike Dama declared of Rieden, who was guidance counselor during his time as a Crivitz High School student. "He's a man who, once he got here, determined to make Crivitz a better place."
Rieden, who was born in Fond du Lac, started working at Crivitz on his birthday, Aug. 29, 1960, and stayed for 32 years. He taught history for four years, moved into guidance for four years, and then became superintendent for the next 25 years, until he retired on Aug. 31, 1992.
Next speaker was Gene Chapman, who for many years before his retirement was Middle School/Elementary School Principal under Rieden's tutelage.
"This is a great day for the entire Crivitz community," Chapman declared. He thanked Dama for getting the renaming and dedication project started and helping to make it a reality. Chapman had written a letter last August suggesting that Rieden should be honored for his long and dedicated service to the district.
Chapman said 39 years ago he walked into the office of Coleman Superintendent Cliff Robbins (now deceased) to inform him he would be leaving Coleman to teach at Crivitz.
"You want to work for Gordy?" Robbins had asked him. Chapman said he did. Robbins then told Chapman he had made a good choice, and praised Rieden as "...the best administrator in the conference, and the best in this entire CESA!" Chapman said after getting to know Mr. Rieden and working with him, he agreed.
With Rieden as superintendent, Chapman said the entire staff at Crivitz knew they all "... were in it as a group. There was no one better than anyone else." He said that included administrators, teaching staff, kitchen staff, janitorial staff, as well as parents. And the students always came first. And staff members were reminded to remember they were profesisonals, and behave with dignity.
He said in the old building, which now houses elementary and middle school classes, there were at that time 1,100 students and 100 adults. "It was crowded, but by working together, we made it work," he said.
He said Rieden never missed a day of work, which made it hard for anyone else to take a day off without feeling guilty. And, he said, Rieden was "Crivitz, through and through. When you were there, you bled blue and gold. It's that simple!"
He said Rieden stressed the importance of treating everybody with dignity and respect - staff, parents, students - and said regretfully in today's world in general, "I think we've lost a lot of that."
He repeated, "To him, students were what matters. I've never met an individual wiser than he; anyone with his ability to know what is true and honest, and act accordingly." He said he was privileged to have learned from him.
Turning to Rieden, he declared, "Mr. Rieden, for what you've done for the youth here over generations, we're here to honor you!"
Chapman then introduced Morrison, who had been legal counsel for the school during most of Rieden's tenure as superintendent, and those years included some significant legal battles. Chapman said of Morrison, "If anybody's going to battle for you, this man will do it!"
Rieden was viewed in the community as always being somewhat reserved, always proper, always dignified, always formally dressed, and always called, "Mr. Rieden."
When Morrison stepped to the podium he chuckled about the idea that Cliff Robbins had referred to Mr. Rieden as "Gordy," and asked, "Does anyone here even call him "Gordon" except me?" Indications were that no one did, including Board President Mike Dama, who declared the former superintendent is still, and always will be, "Mr. Rieden" to him and everyone he knows.
Morrison said while listening to Chapman's speech, "I found I have exactly the same impression of Mr. Rieden's character as he does...so we must be right...He is a truly extraordinary educator and a truly extraordinary man."
Morrison said during his 40 years of practicing law he had the pleasure of representing many school districts, boards, and district administrator. He said without taking away from any of the the others he has worked with, "my representation of the Crivitz School District and my work with Gordon Rieden has always stood out as the absolute high point of that experience."
"Educators are all about improving the opportunities for children," Morrison went on. "That is why they are educators. Every school district strives to squeeze as many opportunities out of the resources that are available to assist their children. There are never enough resources. There are always ways to improve....that was certainly true of Gordon Rieden."
"I always believed, and often said, that the school children of the Crivitz School district for generations received a far better educational opportunity than one would predict in a small rural district in rural northeastern Wisconsin. Students from Crivitz have distinguished themselves far beyond their numbers for many years.
"I believe this has been always because of the leadership that the school board, staff and most importantly its leader, Gordon Rieden, provided. Gordon Rieden was a great administrator because he was a great human being!"
Morrison said over many years and dealing with countless legal issues he had a chance to watch Gordon Rieden make wise and generous calls. "Whether we were discussing a contentious labor issue, a difficult employment issue, problems with contractors or vendors, Gordon never forgot that his purpose was to maximize the educational opportunities for children and to do that in a way that valued and honored the efforts of everyone involved in the process."
Morrison recalled difficult contract negotiations in which there might have been some "gloating" over an advantage the board had just realized. "Gordon would stop us short to remind us that the people we were negotiating with - not against - with, were partners in the process. If it was contract negotiations, He would remind us that these are the people who are educating our kids."
He repeated Chapman's sentiments that, "Gordon valued the contributions of everyone, school board members, janitors, bus drivers, food service employees, teachers, administrators, parents and friends of the district. He treated every person as an essential partner in the process, with dignity and respect, and showed constantly how much he valued their many and important contributions.
He said Gordon Rieden was a good example of what Ronald Reagan used to say, "You can get a lot done if you don't care who gets the credit." He said Rieden made his work look easy, never wavered, "never forgot that it was his privilege to contribute to the education of several generations of children in Crivitz Wisconsin - whether he was teaching geography, or counseling or leading the District....He's defined by the success of thousands of those kids!"
He said none of those former students should ever forget that they owe a lot of their success to Gordon Rieden...So for that reason we dedicate this school to my friend and colleague, Gordon Rieden!"
Next to speak was Gordon Rieden, who expressed surprise at the number of people on hand, and jokingly Cliff Robbins "was a very good friend of mine, and the only person I allowed to call me Gordy."
He said Morrison had kept him out of a lot of trouble over the years.
Several times he said one of the main reasons he stayed at Crivitz was because of the student body, and added, "I love to see so many of you here tonight, and I love to see how you've succeeded in life!"
"I hired hundreds of staff," Rieden said, "and I always said you were the best staff in northeast Wisconsin. Ticking off names, he praised school board members he had worked with over the years, and was pleased so many of them were there for the dedication.
He said the school's offerings have grown to meet the needs of our times, "...and this is a credit to the new administration...and the community itself...the way it has dedicated itself to education...and for this I say "congrats!.'"
Rieden thanked the board for it's unanimous vote to name the school for him. He said he was telling a friend about that unanimous vote, and the friend said, "What did you expect? They're all your ex-students."
Rieden said that was not quite true, but close. Four of the current board members are former students, and two are wives of former students. He was happy the seventh board member voted with them.
In conclusion, Rieden declared, "I can only wish good luck and the best in the future of the Crivitz School District."
Dama said he had been telling a friend, Shawn Dekker, about the board's decision to dedicate the school to Mr. Rieden, and said now they needed to raise money for the plaque. Dekker told him to pick out the plaque, get the right words put on it, and send him the bill.
With presentation of that memorial plaque, the high school campus is now officially officially, "The Gordon P. Rieden Learning Center," Dama declared.
When the ceremonies concluded the crowd moved inside to share conversation and light refreshments.
During his time as administrator, and after his retirement, Rieden continued working for the young people of Crivitz. He was a consultant and then a member of the Board of Directors for Crivitz Youth Incorporated (CYI) and worked closely with Nancy Buck (Ransom), who founded and funded it. He was instrumental in the CYI's Child Development Center, bowling alleys in the Youth Center building, skateboard park and other developments. He retired from the CYI board in 2011.
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