Social studies teacher Ross Richards will become Sheyenne High School’s first Activities Director.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Richards said. “This is something that I have wanted to do for a number of years with my experiences in West Fargo, and I think any time you get a chance to be part of the beginning of something, it is a unique opportunity.”
Richards has been involved in the school district since 1991 as both a teacher and coach. He coached the Packer boys’ hockey team for 17 years and served as an assistant coach on the football team during that time.
He is a graduate and former hockey player of Concordia College in Moorhead. He has also been an assistant coach for the Cobbers’ hockey team for the past five years.
“I have a hockey background, but I love all sports and activities,” Richards said.
It was announced last Wednesday that Richards would take the reins of Sheyenne’s activities, but he will officially begin administrative duties on July 1.
“First and foremost, (my job) will be to ensure the mission of the district when it comes to activities,” Richards said, “to get as many kids as we can involved in various activities, keep them involved and make sure they have good experiences when participating.”
Richards earned his Master of Science Education degree in Educational Administration from North Dakota State University in 1998.
“I have worked with Ross for the last 15 years,” Sheyenne principal Greg Grooters said. “In the Activities Director position, you need someone that has not only the knowledge to put together a quality program for kids and the organizational skill to pull off the scheduling aspect of the job. Ross is extremely qualified to do both of those. He can handle the managerial part as well as be a good leader on the front end to support our coaches and set up quality programs for these kids. The kids need to walk away from a program having enjoyed and learned from the experience. Be it debate or cross-country, we are going to set up a program that allows kids to find success and grow.”
Sheyenne High School will be phased in over the next three years, with the school housing just sophomores and freshmen next year. The transition will be completed when this year’s freshmen become seniors in 2015-16.
“We are in uncharted waters here,” Richards said. “It’s a unique thing to have a school that is being split. In North Dakota, we often read about school closings, so this is different for a lot of people. How it is going to happen has a lot of unknowns, but we will explore what has to happen and set timetables for each program. It takes a special person to be part of building something.”
According to Richards, the number of students interested and active in each program at West Fargo High School may affect how quickly Sheyenne’s varsity programs begin, and he will work closely with West Fargo High School Activities Director Curt Jones to determine the timetables for each sport and activity.
“There is no blueprint for what we are doing,” Richards said. “It’s easy to become part of something that is already successful, but we are going to build this into something successful. We’re starting from scratch, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find success right away. It just depends how we are going to measure success for each program.”
While he is already looking to his administrative duties, Richards still has a job to do until July.
“It’s a big change for me professionally,” Richard said. “I still have responsibilities, first and foremost, to the classroom and students as a teacher, but at the same time I am trying to organize myself and start performing two jobs at once.”
What excites Richards most about his new role is the hand he will have – along with the first few classes to walk into Sheyenne High – in molding this new program.
“What a great opportunity for the kids to be the first to do something. They will never have that taken away,” Richards said. “This is a chance that no other kids that walk through these doors will have: to set the bar. The traditions we’ll have 50 years from now will be the things that they a going to start. We need to be sure we do this the right way, that the traditions we establish will be the right kind of traditions. That’s our big task moving forward.”