Sunset Service Day and a goodbye to Principal John Huelskamp

Varsha Karumuru, Addy Braun, Mr. Huelskamp, Addi Gates, Jaden Rolling during the celebration naming the main courtyard in honor of Mr. Huelskamp.

By Addy Braun, Sunset student

Sunday, May 22, 2022, was a day of service at Sunset High School. Over 200 community members came together to beautify our school by painting, bark dusting, and otherwise cleaning up our school grounds.

This year’s Sunset High School (SHS) Service Day involved more than 600 hours of total volunteer work, over 25 projects, and was followed by a celebratory barbeque. As the spotlight project, a new, unifying message was painted at the school’s track. With the words “WE ARE SUNSET” and “WE ARE unstoppable” spanning two adjacent walls, the message can be seen by passing cars on Science Park Dr. Volunteers also beautified Sunset’s main stadium in preparation for graduation—planting flowers in celebration—and cleared out our courtyards in time for the (hopeful) sun to come.

Huelskamp drove a tractor to move landscaping rocks on Service Day
Planting flowers in the main stadium in preparation for graduation

But May 22, 2022, was special for another reason. The day of service served as a fitting goodbye to Sunset High School’s principal of 10 years, John Huelskamp. He has accepted the position of president at La Salle Prep in Milwaukie.

There is no denying that Principal Huelskamp has gone above and beyond in his role at our school. During the four years I have been a Sunset student, it has not been uncommon to see him working after hours and on the weekends to make our school a better place. In fact, just a few weeks ago, he was spotted by our track team after school, power cleaning the bleachers by himself.

Friends have fun planting flowers…
sunset unstoppable
Painting a new mural “WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE,” “SUNSET” (unpictured), and the silhouette of a runner (unpictured) next to the Sunset track.

Mr. Huelskamp makes it a point to learn everyone’s name, say “hi” to them in the halls, and make them feel welcome at school. Every morning, he stands in front of the main entrance greeting each student that walks through the door. And at the start of every year at “Apollo Preview Days,” during which freshmen are introduced to SHS for the first time, he stands outside to have a short conversation with each new Sunset family.

Replacing bark dust outside Sunset’s main stadium.

He inspires everyone around him with his kindness and willingness to dedicate his time to our school. He also sees the good in all and brings out the best in those around him.

“Everyone, and I mean everyone, agrees that he plays a major part in the community. He is involved, knows people’s names, and is very open-minded to the thoughts of people around him,” says Matthew Bieker, SHS Class of 2022.

It’s difficult, or perhaps impossible, to find enough positive adjectives to describe Principal Huelskamp. He is service-driven, dedicated, passionate, thoughtful, an inspiration to those around him, and an invaluable member of the Sunset community.

He will be deeply missed by every student, family, and staff member at Sunset High School next year; our school will not be the same without him. However, while we are sad to see him leave, we wish him the best in his future endeavors, and we are content knowing that he will always have a place at Sunset High School.

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