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Rick Hahn enjoys working at West Hardin Middle School because “they’re my kind of people,” he said.
The 52-year-old is a custodian, archery coach and much more.
Principal Jon Thomas has worked with Hahn for 14 years.
“He has always seen his title as custodian as more than keeping things clean and running,” Thomas said. “He is committed to the students that walk through these halls every day and develops caring relationships with them that help make them more secure in being here and confident in themselves.”
Hahn admitted he was not a fan of school when he was younger and tries to explain to the kids — in a way they’d understand — how much they need an education.
The worst thing you can say to a child is “because I said so,” he said.
“I don’t care to tell them the mistakes that I made so they won’t make them,” he said.
Thomas said Hahn participates with students whenever he gets the opportunity.
He can be found playing kickball in physical education, participating in the school spelling bee, playing a type of “Jeopardy!” game for chapter review with students in the classroom or sharing his writing knowledge with eighth-grade language arts, Thomas said. Hahn also writes a column for the Hardin County Independent.
But Hahn’s care for the children goes beyond the classroom.
Thomas said Hahn often purchases and brings in school supplies, clothes or other items for students if he learns there is a need.
Hahn gets along with all students but has a special bond to the children with special needs.
“I’m kind of partial to them,” Hahn said.
He will hang out with them during lunch and makes sure no one picks on them. But he said at his school, no one really does pick on them.
“He’s always had a special place in his heart for our special needs students and has a lot of fun with them in the classroom and at lunch,” Thomas said.
Hahn has loved hunting all his life and became involved with the Archery in the Schools program as range official at the first state tournament. There were 38 competitors at the first tournament. Now, there are thousands, he said.
He helped get the program started at West Hardin 10 years ago. About four other schools in the area have a program and he will be the assistant coach at Central Hardin soon when a team is formed there.
“I’m excited about that because there are some pretty good kids there,” he said.
Archery is a winter sport and he doesn’t start it at West Hardin until right before Christmas because a lot of students are deer hunters. He knows he won’t be able to get them to practice until that season is over.
Hahn chooses the team before Christmas, so archers can ask for a bow as a gift if they make the team.
He stops practice in March when the state stops its program. It’s also convenient for the landscaping business he runs on the side.
“When the grass has started growing, archery is done,” he said.
There can be 24 students on the team, which must include at lease five girls. Hahn chooses the team by taking the kids with the 24 highest scores during tryouts. It’s the best way to be fair, he said.
When Hahn was in school, he wasn’t very active in sports, which is part of the reason he’s a proponent of archery in schools. In archery, students don’t have to be tall or have athletic talents to make the team or succeed.
“If they had this when I was in school, I may have liked it better,” he said.
Although Hahn calls himself a “simple man,” Thomas said he’s an essential part of the school.
“He serves as vital part of fulfilling our school’s vision of being a place where people want to be,” Thomas said. “He’s definitely more to our school than his title implies.”
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.