Last Friday, I sat in the office of teacher Dick Paul at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley. He is set to retire June 13 after 32 years at the school.
His first year was 1976. The very first day he walked into a classroom at the school, he was announced as my homeroom teacher. I was a sophomore at the time. He also was my geometry teacher that same year. On Friday, I got a chance to tell him that his geometry class was my favorite class in four years at T-G.
But, we spent little time talking about geometry or school. Instead, the talk was mostly about fishing and his upcoming trip to Lake Mille Lacs June 9. He fishes the lake several times each year and invited me along for this one.
I’ve been wanting to go fishing with him for years, but our schedules never lined up. This outing sounds very intriguing. It’s an annual trip on a Mille Lacs fishing launch he makes every year with teachers from both Totino-Grace and Hill-Murray, where his wife, Susan, serves as principal. There is a trophy that goes to the team that catches the biggest fish. The competition is friendly, but can get intense.
“They (Hill-Murray teachers) have possession of the trophy,” Dick Paul said. “We lost it in the last 20 minutes of the trip last year.”
The trip started about 10 or 11 years ago, Paul said, when Duane Buhl from Totino-Grace and Brad Peterson from Hill-Murray worked to put together a combined trip. Prior to that, each of the schools was going out on a launch on Mille Lacs independently.
“It’s nothing but pure fun andd good-natured teasing between the schools,” Paul said. “Inevitably, someone pulls a prank on someone else during the night.”
One interesting subplot this year will be the switching of teams by Aaron Miller. Last year, he fished on the Totino-Grace team because he was a religion teacher there. Then, he was hired by Hill-Murray as assistant principal, starting at the beginning of this school year. So, this year, he will be fishing for Hill-Murray.
Which brought me to the question: Whose team would I be fishing for? Totino-Grace, based on my status as an alum? What about my journalistic code of being impartial, not to mention my code as an archdiocesan employee to support all Catholic schools?
Paul had a quick answer for all of these questions: “You’re fishing impartially for us. You are what you are and proud of it.”
Let the competition begin!