Wrappers? Cake? Cone-shaped hats? Not on this birthday celebration! Mr. Leimkuehler’s 50th birthday was filled with something other than that of the common birthday attire. Nov. 5, was the birthday, but Monday Nov. 7, was the time of celebration… from the entire school.
When asked about the level of surprise, Mr. Leimkuehler responded, “I was pleasantly surprised. It was very moving in the fact that the staff and the students would go to such effort to recognize me. The cupcakes, the students wearing black and the [graveyard] signs were all very nice.”
The hallways were labeled with references to old age. One label said, “Arthritis Lane.” In the main office and around the school hung dozens of black paper graves with jokes on them as well. The teachers also wore pictures of their school leader on their lanyards that day.
“Oh yeah, that was pretty clever. I liked the things the teachers had on their lanyards, like 'The Man,' 'The Myth,' [and] 'The Legend,'” said Malorie Deeken.
Mrs. Pohlmann, the arts teacher at HHS, decided to make the graves out of black wallpaper and white paint for the messages.
“Haha! It was my idea," said Pohlmann. "I thought it would be a funny thing. I liked making the hall signs too. I mean, if you can’t laugh at things, what’s the point?”
Fifty years is fifty years; plenty of time to make friends, get to know people, and build a life. One of Mr. Leimkuehler’s schoolmates happens to be one of his fellow staff members. Mrs. Lerbs graduated the same year as Leimkuehler. When asked what she thought about Mr. Leimkuehler turning fifty, Lerbs responded with, “That’s kind of a loaded question because I’m about to be fifty. What do I think about it? Oh my, I think it was a nice thing of everybody being so supportive of him as he went ‘over the hill.’”
It is difficult to imagine at a young age what it is like to be fifty. To imagine being over halfway finished with a career when you’re just beginning to find your own. To imagine having children and watching them go through the same things you go through now. Mr. Wunderlich, the school’s Marketing and Finance teacher who is also fifty, decided to dedicate a few minutes to enlighten Mr. Leimkuehler on the next few years of his life.
"Well, ah, don’t take anything for granted. Live every day to the fullest, and enjoy your family. Act like you’re still thirty, heh heh.”
When asked about how different turning fifty felt for him, Wunderlich was indifferent. "It's really no different, other than I got a lot of AARP mail"