School’s silence adds to dilemma
The students and staff of the Fredonia Middle School have suffered a tremendous loss. Their leader has disappeared, without any real explanation.
The students and staff have in essence been in a state of grieving and confusion for close to 10 weeks. This is unacceptable for an educational institution. Children and adults cannot be expected to move forward in a healthy way until this loss is honestly and sincerely addressed, and Andy Ludwig’s lasting legacy of inclusion, acceptance and genuine love for his students and staff is acknowledged. Mr. Ludwig and his staff and students deserve better.
One important and healthy way of dealing with grief is through talking and remembering, looking for things to help you remember the one you have lost.
In the case of this very real loss at the middle school, every trace of Mr. Ludwig has been removed. Every tradition he started, every encouraging word, every kindness and support he offered have effectively been erased. The apprehension, anxiety and sadness by students and staff have never been acknowledged by the school board or the superintendent, or truly by any of the building administrators. In fact no one is allowed to discuss or express their sadness within the school building during the school day.
No communication was made to students or parents letting them know that their principal would not be back until it was on the front page of the OBSERVER over two months later. Again, unacceptable leadership and transparency was exhibited. Mr. Ludwig would never have allowed over two months to go by without communicating something so important to students and their parents. He never would have allowed a trauma of this magnitude to go un-addressed.
The loss to the middle school is inestimable. This is a man who truly saw the middle school as an extension of his own family. He knew every student by name. He fed children who didn’t have enough money for lunch or breakfast. He gave rides to countless students whose parents either couldn’t pick them up from, or take them to school events, or who simply forgot about them.
He literally gave children the shirts off his back. He washed their clothes when they were not clean. He went to their homes to bring them to school when their parents couldn’t get them up in the morning. He went to their games, their matches and meets to encourage them. He counseled and mentored literally thousands of students. He paid for yearbooks and bought boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies from every girl who asked. He bought Boy Scout popcorn, chicken barbecue tickets, poinsettias and mums.
He brought his own lawn equipment to school to mulch and mow and trim the entrance to the middle school so it looked attractive and inviting. In the winter he shoveled the sidewalks and brushed snow off cars while he was often the only adult on bus duty. He got to school at 5:30 a.m. and more often than not, worked 13- and 14-hour days. His generosity of spirit and largesse is sorely missed. These qualities made his faculty look forward to going to work every single day.
When Mr. Ludwig called the middle school his family, he meant it. It wasn’t something he said because it sounded good or because he was trying to impress people or ingratiate himself to the community. He lived and showed it every single day.
This is the irreplaceable man, mentor, leader that the middle school has lost, and for some, the only father figure they had in their life. He was one of the finest people to ever hold the position of middle school principal.
For the district not to recognize these special and unique qualities is shameful. For them not to recognize this loss, for the health and welfare of its students, faculty, and staff, is downright harmful and unacceptable.
and 52 other signatures from within the district who support Andy Ludwig