Saying Goodbye to Mr. Fritz
His name strikes fear into the hearts of some, draws nothing but compliments from others, and is undeniably associated with everything Atholton. His influence is widespread; from arranging schedules to dealing with troublemakers, he is involved with much of what happens throughout the school. His sudden departure from the school is both surprising and upsetting.
“I know we’ll all feel his loss,” said Ms. Clements. “Atholton won’t be the same without him. We’ll have to try to suffer through, and I’m sure he’ll still be a Raider at heart.”
After ten years at Atholton, working first as a math teacher and then as an administrator, Mr. Fritz worked his last day at the school on January 20th. His replacement comes from within Atholton, as Mr. Babe is the new acting Assistant Principal. Mr. Fritz’s new job as an Area Manager at the Department of Transportation will keep him involved with the education system, but will include less student interaction.
“Part of the reason I’m going over to Student Transportation is that I have a finance background and a managerial background and they’re looking to make use of some of that over there and with some changes they want to make, so they’re tapping into that background,” he explained.
As an Area Manager, Mr. Fritz will supervise “pretty much anything and everything that has to do with student transportation.” Howard County is divided into six regions, and Mr. Fritz will be heading one of these regions. He will be working with contractors-developing and putting up bids for different contracts- and cooperating with the state to train bus drivers.
“Part of my job is to work closely with the director of transportation, to determine whether or not we should close schools due to inclement weather. I think that will just be fun, because I like snow, I like being out in the snow, I like to drive in the snow,” said Mr. Fritz. “And I know kids everywhere will cheer when we decide to close schools.”
Despite his excitement over his new job, he will certainly miss certain aspects of his previous position.
“Interacting with the kids and working with the students is going to be what I miss the most,” he explained. “I’m generally the kind of person that, I can only do one thing for about four, five years…I have the attention span of the cat, my wife tells me, so I’ve always got to be doing something new, exciting. It was just time for a change and I’m going to miss Atholton, I’m going to miss the students here, but its time to just do something different.”
As Assistant Principal Mr. Fritz played many roles in the school and his job involved a variety of responsibilities. Scheduling is a challenging task, one that requires patience, flexibility, and top-notch organizational skills. It is hard to believe that one man is in charge of ensuring that everyone is in the right class at the right time, and even harder to believe that he is additionally responsible for trying to keep everyone happy. Many teachers agree that his execution of this task alone is amazing.
“He is an incredibly effective administrator; he holds everyone accountable for their behaviors, and he’s outstanding at that,” said Ms. Stackhouse. “He doesn’t take any guff or nonsense from anybody.”
Though the conversations had in his office may not always be the most pleasant, the way in which he addresses his duty of enforcing consequences is generally considered to be both fair and reliable.
“I know if I send a kid to him there’s a reason why I need his intervention and I can rely on him for certain expectations,” explained Mr. Simmons. “There’s a degree of professionalism and consistency that, as a staff, we really appreciate.”
While his contributions to the school through his duties and responsibilities are numerous, his personality and sense of humor will also be sorely missed.
“He always had time to talk, he always had a joke or two that he would like to tell, and I felt like I could approach him,” said Mr. Simmons. “Some days I would just go sit in his office and say ‘hey what’s up?’ and we’d talk, not just about school, but anything.”
Furthermore, he has been known to “talk his fair share of trash, when appropriate or when necessary,” as Ms. Clements said.
However, Mr. Fritz has had to curb his smack talk in regards to the Chili Cook-Off that he has organized for the past two years. This event is characteristic of his tendency to rally the staff together to do fun activities revolving around some sort of food. This year, since he is no longer commissioner of the event, he will be participating and aims to win the award. Mr. Decker, a participant in the event, claims that such an outcome is unfair.
“It’s going to be a pity vote, because he’s leaving, and that’s about it.”
Mr. Decker admits that Mr. Fritz will be missed however, and reiterated his feelings on the subject several times.
“He’s been working at Atholton forever, so we’ll miss a big piece of that,” he explained.
Though he has left, Mr. Fritz will fondly remember his experiences at the school. In addition to the students, he explained how the wildlife at the school was memorable for him, particularly Taco the Cat, named after the lunch served by the cafeteria on this particular day.
“So one day I’m in the front lobby during one of the lunch shifts and I just hear kids screaming and this whole mob of kids is coming from the cafeteria through the front lobby. It’s because they’re chasing this dag-gone cat that had appeared out of nowhere. So Officer Matthews and I then got the cat corralled in that main hallway outside the cafeteria and called Animal Control to come get this cat,” he explained. “Well there’s a water fountain at the end of that hallway and it got in behind that water fountain and up in the ceiling. I haven’t seen Taco since.”
Mr. Fritz is adamant about returning to Atholton in the future, to see the new turf fields, enjoy some games, and reconnect with people from the community. His personality, skill, and efficient manner will be missed, and Atholton will certainly take some time to adjust to his absence. But though he has left, unlike Taco, there is no doubt that we will be seeing him around sometime soon.