Story originally published in The Apple Leaf March 5, 2014.
Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” rattles through the walls of the athletic office on a bittersweet day. The spirits of the employees of the office are high. The telephone is ringing and the athletic director is away for the moment, but in a few months, for good.
Suddenly, “This song fits us,” Assistant Athletic Director LeAnne Branam spouts off. “It’s the end of an era.”
This is Feb. 26, the day that Wenatchee High School Principal Bob Celebrezze named Athletic Director BJ Kuntz to replace Mike Franza as Dean of Students in August.
“We will definitely miss her,” Branam said. “She’s going to be spectacular at whatever she does.”
Kuntz was promoted to the dean position because Franza is retiring at the end of the school year. Kuntz has been the athletic director for the past 12 years, according to an announcement email from Celebrezze.
“I’m super excited to go and tackle some new things,” Kuntz said. While the dean position is still “evolving,” Kuntz is prepared to help the position progress and support the building, students, and staff at WHS, as well as support the principal and be a part of the leadership team.
The promotion for Kuntz will allow her to have more time with her family, which she is looking forward to. “Life as an athletic director is a lot of pressure,” Kuntz said, mentioning the nights and weekends involved with the job and varying opinions from multiple people.
She believes her organization, love for kids, and high standards will bring a nice approach to the dean position.
But currently, Kuntz doesn’t get to work with kids as much. She said it’s all about “going back to grounding yourself and why you got into [education] in the first place.”
Celebrezze offered Kuntz the opportunity after confirming the switch with Wenatchee School District Superintendent Brian Flones. Kuntz was the only person considered for the position, Celebrezze said.
”It was such an easy decision,” Celebrezze said. “She loves kids, she’s been here for years, I know her well, and she’s taught at the high school and Orchard Middle School as well. What really sold me was that she loves Wenatchee High School.”
“She’s always been a strong supporter of the swimming program and it’ll be sad to see her go,” swimming coach Brian Lee said. “She has some big shoes to fill — I feel sorry for anyone who has to take the place of Mike Franza.”
“This was my first year coaching and without her assistance, we never would have had the success we had this season,” girls soccer coach John Springer said. “Although I am excited for her new opportunity, she will really be missed in the athletic department.”
A new athletic director will now be hired, Kuntz confirmed, but doesn’t have the details of what that process will entail.
“We’re blessed to work in this office,” Branam said. She noted the smoothness of how everything works within the department and how the staff gets along with each other. “Hopefully whoever comes next will keep that flow.”
Kuntz didn’t formally request to leave the athletic department, she said. She will begin as Dean of Students in August, but didn’t have a comment on how long she plans to stay in the role, saying she never knows where her life will take her.