The Grizzly Growl

Transcript of Interview with Quarnberg

Riley Baxter, Staff Writer

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Interview by Riley Baxter with Todd Quarnberg

 

Interviewer: Alright, so the date is May 17th. The time is 7:54. It’s Riley Baxter speaking to Mr. [Todd] Quarnberg. So Mr. Haslam told us about the staff meeting, and how you’re gonna go to Herriman.

 

Quarnberg: “Oh, yup. Yup.”

 

Interviewer: So he just wanted one of us to come down here and talk to you about it real quick. So basically, can you just explain the situation, like what went down at the staff meeting?

 

Quarnberg: “So I think there’s been rumors that I would go… for a couple of months. And a lot of that is because I’ve been here ten and a half years. When you’re an administrator in this district, this is gonna sound mean, but you’re property of the district. I don’t get to choose where I serve. I knew it was possible, but I was trying to keep my head down. Just hoping to be passed by again and again.

“I’m going to miss the kids here, there’s no doubt. I think that’s the hardest part, and the staff, and the classified staff. I have dear friends that I’ll be leaving. One thing about me… I will always keep in touch. And there’s always going to be a soft spot in my heart for the people here. I hope the students know that the principal doesn’t run this school. You’re already in great hands because I’ve seen a lot of leadership come out of the student body. I’ve been able to listen to the students and do their bidding, and advocate for them. And I think that’s what’s miraculous about this school. They advocate for themselves. They’re not afraid to speak. They are so tolerant of differences that it makes being a principal pure joy because you can see… you can see the growth of this school.

“As for me going to Herriman. [Pause] I’m shocked. I’m concerned. We’re all aware that there’s been multiple suicides there. I think the school’s in great shape, but I think I need to focus on that community. I’ve been given a great challenge, you know, to go over there and be visible. And I’m going to take the challenge and do everything I can. I bow to no one. That community’s going to find out that we are gonna get through this. I know they’re in pain. But we don’t even bow to pain and anguish. We get back up.

“I will miss everybody here. I think the question that would be hard for me to answer is… How do you feel about this move? I don’t think you need to ask this question. If you believe I am a Grizzly… If you know me… If you’ve taken the time to listen… You know the answer to that question as to how I feel. I’m heartbroken… And not because I’m going to Herriman. I’m heartbroken because I’m leaving a place that I absolutely love, and it’s been home to me for ten and a half years. People say… ‘have you got a bed at Copper Hills? Have you got a triplet?’ Are you a triplet because they always say I’m always here. Well, that’s because this is my home. That’s how I feel.

“I never say goodluck to anybody. I’ll never say ‘goodluck Copper Hills’. What I will say is simply… Get it done. Move forward. The power isn’t with the principal. Never has been. The power is with the students and the staff that abide here. And I’m not worried about that.”

 

Interviewer: And would you say… One of the reasons you’re moving is because of the suicide, correct? The death issues?”

 

Quarberg: “That would be an assumption on my part. That would be my biggest concern. The district doesn’t give you that much information. They look at the personalities of the principal and place you where they think you can help the most. When we talked about suicides and pain and anguish, the reason I mentioned that is because I can see that as one of the biggest challenges going forward. I think they’ve got a great administration team. Kim Surral was my assistant principal here and she’s at Herriman. She got moved last night, to a principalship, but they have good administrators there. I think I’ve just got to rally that community and be visible. If that’s why the district sees me as a great fit, then I welcome that challenge.

 

Interviewer: That’s kind of, like, really big news, shocking news. What would you say the adverse reactions in Copper Hills will be? How do you feel the school will be impacted by your transfer?

 

Quarnberg: “So I’ve got good news for the students and staff here, and I told the staff already this morning. I think the impact will be… What, when anybody leaves… It’s how I feel each year when the seniors leave. I weep each year when the seniors leave. That closing assembly, I’m a mess. And it’s not just the student government, either. Every kid that walks across that stage, there’s a piece of me that goes out with them. That’s the impact.

“The good news is… If I had to hand pick somebody to follow me, and I’ve worked with a lot of administrators, I would have picked the replacement, Brian Veazie, here. He is excited to be here, he taught here, he was an assistant principal here, and now principal. Great experience. Probably one of the largest hearts that could be fit into a human being. He is a kids’ advocate. Loves athletics. Loves the performing arts. Loves fine arts. I think the miraculous thing about Brian Veazie is there won’t be a step back from progress here. Brian’s certainly capable of listening to staff and students, and continuing to make it better. I don’t think we’re gonna say ‘Well gosh, can he really replace you?’ and the answer is: yeah, he can and he will. I am thrilled. It makes it easier for me to go, knowing that this school is going to be in great hands. So that’s the shock.”

 

Interviewer: So what’s the protocol of… How will you inform students of this move and when will that happen?

 

Quarnberg: “So just like you were informed. I informed the teachers, and the teachers will tell the students. I’ll have an opportunity to speak to them at the closing assembly. We need to remember that graduation isn’t about me, it’s about the students. So you’re not going to see a big ‘Goodbye Mr. Quarnberg’. We’re going to be celebrating every graduate here. There’s no time for tears here, there’s time for movement. Time for growth.

“The sophomores and juniors, there’s no mourning. You dig in and you support this new principal, and you support your teachers, and do just as you have done for me. I’m excited for what the possibilities are here.”

 

Interviewer: So when you eventually retire, do you feel like you’ll be keeping a lot more of the CHHS memorabilia in contrast to the Herriman-

 

Quarnberg: “I can’t answer that, because everything is so new and such a shock. Will I put as much time and effort into Herriman as I have here? Absolutely. If you know me, I’m a competitor! I will never cheer against anybody here. I will cheer for the kids at my school, that’s what you would expect of me. I could never cheer for somebody to be beat over here. And if you’re listening to me now, or reading this article, I want you to come over to Herriman and compete. I want you to come and compete. I want you to come down- or come with the attitude, that… ‘I don’t care who you are, or who’s at Herriman, I’m coming in to win’. If that’s the attitude coming in when you compete against Herriman, I’ll know that I’ve done my job.

“I love too many kids here to actively stand on the sideline and cheer for my new student body- Or, or, against… Excuse me. I’ve been here too long to cheer against the Copper Hills kids. I will cheer for the Herriman kids. I’m a guy who rides for the brand. I’m a cowboy from central Utah, so ride for the brand. Cattleman brand their calves and their stock, and they’re very loyal to that brand, and I will be loyal to that Herriman brand, and do everything I can to carry on. Hopefully I can make a difference, and make improvements, but in the end, I ride for the brand. And students, you need to ride for the brand as well. Be proud of where you’re from.”

 

Interviewer: Ok, so this is going to be one of our last questions so you can get to the tennis game. Is there a… What was your immediate reaction to hearing the news?

 

Quarnberg: “So, of course I’m concerned about leaving here, but truly my first thought is the community, because I can see on social media and I’m hearing from my friends there how that community is torn. I don’t know if they’ve had six or seven suicides, and maybe you can verify.”

 

Interviewer: It was six [NOTE: It’s 8] And they’ve had a number of car accidents.

 

Quarnberg: “Yeah. That was my immediate thought. How do we start healing? And how do we stop suicide… And I’m telling you, I don’t have the magic answer. If Herriman’s looking for a magical answer as to how to fix that, I’m telling you, I don’t know… I don’t know… I’m going to go over and do everything I can to find the answer to that. I don’t know what their culture is yet. It’s an unknown to me. What I do know is that I’m going to give my all. I bow to no one. I’m going over there with the right attitude, to find the answer and take care of the community, just as I have here.”

 

Interviewer: And, uh, this will be the last one. Do you have any final messages to just say to Copper Hills that-

 

Quarnberg: “I love you.” -Profound Silence- “That’s it.”

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The Official Student Voice of Copper Hills High School
Transcript of Interview with Quarnberg