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Crimson Aviator

The Ironman of De Pere High School

Mr. Thielhelm gives advice about how to make the most of your high school years

One of DPHS’ assistant principals, Mr. Thielhelm, was asked questions about his experiences and thoughts of the school. 

He is a former special education teacher at both Sheboygan North and De Pere, and last year he was an assistant principal at Manitowoc.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Sheboygan and went to Sheboygan North, so conference rivals. 

Q: What were your favorite activities growing up and in high school?

A: I ran cross country, track, I played in a league basketball and that’s about it. 

Q: Do you still enjoy doing those things now?

A: About midway through high school I stopped doing some sports, and in hindsight I really regret stopping doing those things. I was really into music, and I thought that maybe a musician would be a career for me. I took a solid decade off from competing or doing sports, but [now] I swim, I bike, I run, and I really like athletics. I have done two Ironman triathlons, three half-Ironman triathlons, and then probably a dozen more shorter ones.

Q: How do you think the Ironmans impact you? 

A: I enjoy the process of preparing maybe a little more than racing. I do think of training for these events very much like a teacher thinks about preparing kids and monitoring progress. Ultimately, the race day is like a summative test. I learn a lot along the way, and I learn something about myself every time I do them.

Q: Is your biggest regret stopping sports in high school?

A: Not being involved in more because you have the rest of your life to worry about making money and working a lot of hours, but you don’t have the rest of your life to get involved in clubs and learn more about yourself. If I wanted to go and learn a foreign language now, I would have to go and take a class. If you wanted to go skiing now as an adult, you would have to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of time. I think there are a lot of things that I regret not exploring while I had the opportunity because those 4 years go by fast. 

Q: What made you choose to work at DPHS?

A: De Pere as a school has a lot to offer. I don’t think anyone truly understands that until they go to a different school to either work as a teacher or as a student. I remember the first time I took tickets at a football game, and it was a culture shock. It’s not just a huge portion of the student population that shows up, it’s parents, community members, kids who aspire to play football at the high school one day, coming in their jerseys. That is a level of involvement that other school districts envy. This is the third high school I’ve worked at, and I can say that the sense of community is here like nowhere else. 

Q: What do you enjoy about DPHS, and what do you wish could change?

A: Honestly, I enjoy coming to this building every day because of the people. In this role more so than being a teacher, I still have a pretty high amount of contact with the students, but I deal with a lot more of adults and parents. … Some aspirations that I have for our building relate to having more options for students to take the next step. Some of those facilities come along with additional opportunities for students in tech ed, for example. We don’t have an auto-shop; however, other schools do and sometimes those schools are able to team with local businesses. 

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to the students at DPHS?

A: These four years will go by very fast. You step foot in this big building and three months before that you’re an eighth grader, and then when you graduate a quick four years later you’re an adult. A lot of growth has to happen in that time, so the advice would be to get as involved as possible. This is the time for you to explore and also to learn from your mistakes and learn as much as you can in a short amount of time. That learning does extend beyond reading, writing, and math. I’m not just talking about our elective offerings, but learning who you are as a human being, learning how to communicate with other people. 

Q: Is there anything you would like to let us know?

A: I’m struggling to decorate my office. I’d like more plants, so I hope that I can make this a welcoming place so more students will stop by and say hello.

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About the Contributor
Lilly Bristol
Lilly Bristol, Reporter
Lilly Bristol is a sophomore who is a part of the school's newspaper. This is her second year taking journalism, and she plans on taking it for the other two years as well. She participates in many activities including dance, Jam Session, and band. After high school, she would like to enter the journalism world and write for a newspaper.  

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