- Camille Kaldahl, Alumni columnist
Walking through what used to be the door to the shared 7th and 8th grade room, I see an old, red and black adorned letterman jacket hanging on the coat rack behind a large wooden desk. Yearbooks from Midland, Union College, and Maplewood Academy are lined up in chronological order on a shelf nearby. Richard Young, Midland graduate of 2002, is back where he started. But this time, as principal.
Though his personal and professional journey have been met with many twists and turns, one thing has stayed the same. Education has been a part of his entire life. In fact, Rich has had a “first day of school” every year since 1991. During his time at Midland, he won three MAUC basketball tournament trophies and took part in every extracurricular he could.
Looking back on this time in his life, he highlighted his experience this way, “When I remember high school, I don’t think about the geometry, A&P, or history classes. I remember the relationships and being out of school with my classmates. The youth rallies, band and choir tours…That’s the part about Midland that stands out because I got to go out and experience things outside of the classroom.
If we could get my favorite graduating classes together in one room, I feel like those would be my favorite people in the whole world. Midland itself, the building isn’t anything special. It’s the people. When you miss a place, you’re really just missing the people.”
After he graduated from Union College, he stayed in the Lincoln area to become a recruiter for his alma mater, visiting almost every Adventist academy in the United States. After many years in the Lincoln area, God’s calling took him and his family to a new location, Hutchinson, Minnesota. There he became the Vice Principal on an administrative team alongside a principal that had his utmost respect. “She mentored me, believed in me…I’d pretty much run through a brick wall for her.” Seeing that kind of leadership made him want to empower other faculty in the same way.
Earlier this year, he got the phone call asking if he would serve as Midland’s principal for the upcoming school year. “We left Hutchinson because we felt like God was leading us here. I love Kansas City, I love Midland. He’s given me blessings and talents and I want to glorify Him through the work that I do, and I know He’s been preparing me for this moment for a long time,” said Young. Along for this journey is his beautiful wife Natalie and their two children, Nola and Jonathan.
Just getting back from the Broken Arrow Ranch retreat with the high school students, he felt that the year was already off to a great start. “I told the kids at the beginning of the year, Midland is what you make of it. If you want to have a great time, you will. If you don’t, you won’t. That’s how it is. My goal is to give students the opportunity to lead, which in turn gives them the opportunity to serve.”
Overall, when asked about his goals for this year, he left me when these key three points, “The spiritual life at this school is super important to me, it’s easily number one. Next, creating clear boundaries as a leader for students, and finally acting as a support for our teachers in every way that I can.” As someone who has known Rich for many years now, I honestly can't think of anyone better to be sitting across from me as Midland's principal during this interview. And if there is someone who loves Midland more… I just can’t imagine it!