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Retiring Thunder Basin department head makes 2 lists

When she retires, Department Head Sydnie Arehart will have taught for 32 years for Campbell County School District.

Thunder Basin High School Social Studies Department Head Sydnie Arehart is retiring this year. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Thunder Basin High School social studies teacher who’s taught for more than 30 years gave herself one of her last assignments: coming up with two lists.

One has three pages full of more than 30 reasons she’s happy she’s retiring this year, but some of those are silly reasons, Department Head Sydnie Arehart said.

The following items are some of the ones on that list:

  • Having to be at school at a certain time
  • The standardized Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress, better known as WY-TOPP 
  • Grading
  • Meetings
  • Receiving phone calls to her room
  • Not receiving notice of a school closure until the morning of a snow day

Her other list outlines why she’s finding it hard to leave. She said she’ll miss the other teachers and working with those peers. Her parting advice for them includes keeping a journal of the silliest and most brilliant things students say and finding ways to grade more during, instead of outside of, classes.

She said she’ll miss about two-thirds of her students, adding that high school freshmen really need to have recess so they can burn off excess energy, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for children to focus. While she’s fairly confident that when she was in high school, she also had trouble finding school important, she still wishes students could realize the value of education.

Her favorite moments of her career included the times that students she thought weren’t paying attention asked questions that she found thought-provoking.

She said she’s enjoyed being able to see students who have come back to visit and to have had the opportunity to teach her two grandchildren. Arehart has taught world history, American history and justice.

Thunder Basin High school Principal Terry Quinn said Arehart’s students have included his sons, who remember her as being very kind and intelligent.

While Brent Taylor, an English teacher at Thunder Basin and a football coach for Campbell County High School with 17 years of experience in teaching social studies, had been slated to become the department head after Arehart retires, Quinn said April 19 that Taylor accepted a physical education position at Campbell County High School for next fall so that he coach football there and that the district has hired Taylor Hestekin, a University of Mary graduate and a quality candidate, for Thunder Basin’s open social studies teacher position. Quinn said he’ll ask staff over the summer regarding their interest in the department chair position.

Correction, April 20, 2023. A previous version of this story stated that Brent Taylor was going to take Arehart’s position. Thunder Basin High School Principal Terry Quinn notified County 17 April 19, after the article was published, that that information was no longer accurate. Quinn provided the information regarding the district’s hire of Taylor Hestekin, and the story above has been corrected.

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