They say you make some of your best memories in high school, and that high school will be one of the best times of your life.
From the minute I walked in the doors of West as a scared little freshman, I could tell that the people in my new school were having the time of their lives as I looked around me and saw the excitement and involvement of the upperclassmen and the teachers.
I remember the beginning of the year assembly where Principal Jones told us to enjoy every minute because before we knew it, it would be over. Well, that time has come.

My graduating class is now entering our last semester of high school and eagerly waiting for graduation, which at one time felt like it would never come. But when Mr. Jones told us that before we knew it we would be walking across that stage, I don’t think anyone imagined that it wouldn’t be him calling out our names and handing us our diplomas. Our high school memories with Mr. Jones are coming to a close a little sooner than we had imagined.

I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Jones has made sure that the statement “You make some of your best memories in high school” is true for each and every one of us. Mr. Jones was first at West from 1999-2007 as head football coach and returned in 2007 as principal. Nine years later as a tribute to his retirement, the Wingspan staff wanted to share some of the best memories of Mr. Jones.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Every year as winter break approached, Mr. Jones spent the lunch periods dressed up like Santa Claus so groups of students could have their pictures taken with him. Since freshman year, this was a tradition that marked the last few days of school before break.

Do the Nae Nae

At pep rallies, Mr. Jones never failed to get the whole student body on their feet by joining the Dance Team in the middle of the gym. Whenever a new dance craze swept the teenage population at West, Mr. Jones jumped on board, too. He knew how to do a pretty good “Stanky Leg.”

Support for seniors and learning

There have been countless student-made videos where Mr. Jones made a cameo appearance in the background, doing something silly, but always encouraging us to work hard in the classroom. His support for us was never more apparent than on graduation project jury nights when Mr. Jones spent the evening in the media center passing out peppermints to keep everyone calm, and then high-fiving each and every senior as he or she headed out the door to present their project to a jury of community mentors. When seniors completed their presentations, Mr. Jones was there to congratulate them.

Before the graduation ceremony, Mr. Jones took great joy in joining the seniors in the old gym to shake their hands one last time and congratulate them for earning the diploma that they would soon receive. He sincerely wanted to know what each senior planned for the future, and he spent hours preparing “words of wisdom” that he shared each year at graduation before awarding diplomas.

Singing while directing traffic

Leaving school every day, Mr. Jones was always standing at the top of the hill to make sure we didn’t walk out in front of the buses. He sent students home with a “Have a good day” and could often be heard humming or singing to himself.

PJ day

After four years of begging for PJ day and always being denied, we finally got to have our pajama day this year. Although Mr. Jones didn’t come to school sporting his pajamas, he walked through the hall smiling and complimenting everyone else’s.

When I remember Mr. Jones, the first thing that comes to my mind is his motto, “Do what’s right, all the time.” After I walk out the doors of West for the last time, I hope to carry these words about me in everything I do. When I look back fondly at my time in high school, I will remember the man who did so much to make it great for all of us. Mr. Jones will be missed greatly, but we wish him all the best in his retirement and are excited to welcome Shannon Auten as our new principal.

By Caroline Ward

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