Woodcreek principal deployed to Qatar gets surprise send-off at pep rally
The true focus of Woodcreek Middle School’s pep rally on Friday, Sept. 14, became clear as more and more student performances featured prominently the theme of patriotism.
From the step team’s routine performed to “Party in the USA;” to the band and orchestra’s rendition of “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” Woodcreek principal, Bryan Applegate, was given a surprise send-off befitting a member of the United States Army Reserves.
Applegate has been called to active duty and will be deployed in September to Qatar, where he is scheduled to serve until July 2019.
The Woodcreek community came together to show Applegate their appreciation during the last pep rally before his deployment.
As students and staff were entering the gymnasium, event coordinators in camouflage shirts stood in a line in front of Applegate’s family, acting as a visual barrier to prevent Applegate from seeing them and suspecting anything out of the ordinary.
Applegate has been in the Reserves for 22 years, and his wife Michele Applegate was excited that his service was being honored in such a big way by the community.
“It’s a celebration of what he does and has been doing for so long and it’s never been recognized before and it’s just awesome,” she said.
Eighth grader Kinzlye Petters was among the students in the cheer squad at the pep rally. Last school year, Applegate helped her deal with a difficult situation. She said the trust he’s built with students makes it hard to see him go — one of the many reasons why dedicating the pep rally to him was so important.
“He’s leaving our school that he helps 24-7 for us to get a good education, and now he’s leaving to go serve our country. So it was really important for us all together to come and to be very respectful and show we really appreciate him being our principal,” Petters said.
His leadership abilities will be missed by students, but also teachers, according to Karen Kennedy who is head of the social studies department at Woodcreek Middle School.
“He has really tried to build that establishment of an open-door policy — keeping everybody involved and keeping everyone engaged in what we’re doing,” Kennedy said. “What I see here is that the kids are engaged in what’s going on in the campus. This pep rally shows the comradery and the climate and culture of the campus. The key thing about Mr. Applegate is he is passionate about his job and he puts 110 percent into everything he does. He’s a very personable person and is passionate about the kids and their education.”
Applegate said this pep rally was exactly what he needed.
“This means everything,” Applegate said. “First of all, I had no idea they were going to do this, so it’s a total surprise — I’m shocked. My last day is actually next week. It’s a bitter-sweet moment. The pep rally was designed and put on for the kids to show their talents and hard work and to do this for me, to bring me into that, it was a really nice tie-in. They kept me connected to the school, which is what I need.”