By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
It was snowy, cold and dark. The lights in the parking lot weren’t on yet when Keith Bush, the new principal of Nathaniel Scribner Middle School, pulled in during his first year on the job.
But out by the sign, he saw assistant principal Paul Raake doing what he’s done for almost 20 years, changing the letters on the sign to celebrate student achievement.
“I think that’s just the type of person Mr. Raake is,” Bush said. “He’s one of those people that does whatever it takes to recognize a lot of the things students do around here and that’s what that sign’s there for. It was something he just took on early in his career and it kind of became his baby.”
Raake will be able to change the sign lettering from the comfort of his car now, with an electronic sign the school dedicated to him.
Just before the district’s fall intersession, students and staff held a special ceremony to show how much they appreciated Raake’s dedication to the school.
“That was pretty overwhelming,” Raake said. “I got wind that the sign was coming. I didn’t know when, but I had no clue on when they were going to install it. My family knew about it and didn’t let it out, either. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
After meeting him at the sign, they unveiled a plaque mounted to its base commemorating his years of service.
Raake said he started changing out the sign and never stopped because he got used to the duty. With the new sign, he won’t be left to the elements, but he said the honor of the recognition means more to him than that.
“It’s just one of those things like, who’s going to do it? I thought it needed to be done so it fell on me,” Raake said. “There were some rainy mornings and cold mornings, so someone just kind of came up with the idea to dedicate it to me.”
The school’s Parent Teacher Organization put together the plaque and also gave Raake one to hang in his office.
Raake said sometimes, he didn’t know temperatures reached freezing or rain was pouring down until he got outside to update the sign. He said if the weather was nice, he might ask a student to help, but he never turned it over to another adult.
“I hope I haven’t been overbearing, not that I wouldn’t turn it over to someone,” Raake said. “I was the one that did it.”
Bush said he thinks Raake kept doing the job because it gave him a chance to make the students feel good about themselves and what they’d accomplished. He said they were glad to do something for him.
“The kids were so supportive of it and we had an opportunity to get the entire student body out there to recognize him,” Bush said. “I think their enjoyment is a testament to the work Mr. Raake does here at Scribner. He just does a great job of building those relationships and going that extra mile for the kids and the staff. It was just a way for us to express our thanks to him.”