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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Former SLHS principal Mike Hanna returns as homecoming grand marshal

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mike Hanna, who devoted 17 years to the Storm Lake School District as the high school principal, and left the district following the 2006-07 school year, has been selected by the student council to serve as this year's homecoming parade grand marshal.

"I am quite honored," Hanna said, sharing that the students that made the call to him were freshmen when he left. "They remembered me. I'm excited to come back to town and come to a school event."

Hanna was one of the greatest Tornado fans while with the district; he made a point of supporting the sports teams, the fine arts department and everything in-between.

"That's part of being a principal. You're the number one cheerleader and the number one fan," he said.

Hanna and his wife Pam now reside near Des Moines.

When he left Storm Lake he became the director of operations for the non-profit Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) Corporation, working with 18 school districts and implementing 20 programs.

Due to downsizing, the position was eliminated. Hanna is back in the classroom, as a special education instructional assistant at the Indian Hills Junior High in West Des Moines and is relishing the opportunity to again be surrounded by students.

Hanna will surely be remembered by his students as someone who truly cared about them and their education, as well as his fascination with Mickey Mouse (evidenced by the memorabilia which filled his office) and his trademark laugh.

While at Storm Lake High School, Hanna successfully mixed the required rigor of high school with fun.

"The most important thing in my role as an educational leader was to help the teachers do the best things they could for the kids but another part was to help set the atmosphere for the learning to occur," he said. "We always told the kids, 'there is a proper time and place to buckle down and get their work done but there is also a time and place to have fun. We always had a good balance and I hope none of the students dreaded coming to school."

Hanna helped implement many good things at SLHS which have greatly benefited the students.

Diversity Day - a day-long event which was held every other year to celebrate the diversity in the school and community - evolved from many of his ideas.

Another outstanding achievement Hanna can claim is the major role he took in the implementation of the charter school.

When he left the district, he said he wished "everyone the very best in continuing to make the SL District a model for the state, the Midwest, and the nation in providing the best possible educational opportunities pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond for such a wonderfully diverse program."

Now that's class.

Hanna hopes to have a chance to look in on several of his colleagues while in town and take in the Tornado football game, proudly sporting his green and white attire.

The Storm Lake Homecoming parade is set for 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25. The big football game will begin at 7 p.m. against the LeMars Bulldogs.

Welcome back, Mr. Hanna. Welcome back.

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