An open letter to Mr. Strusz, our future superintendent


Jimmy Guest

Senior Jimmy Guest shares an open letter he wrote to the district’s newly appointed superintendent.

Jimmy Guest, Student Life Editor

Dear Mr. Strusz,

On behalf of the students of Pleasant Valley High School, I’d like to congratulate you on being selected to become the new superintendent of the Pleasant Valley School District beginning this summer. As you know, several school board members visited with high school students during lunchtime in an effort to find out our thoughts about what we need in a superintendent. They asked specifically about you. What we’d like you to know is this: we do care.

Dr. Spelhaug’s replacement has been a topic of conversation in many classrooms, lunch tables and hallways. Change can sometimes be frightening. Dr. Spelhaug has been a strong leader for our district, but the PV community has a lot of faith in your ability to take over, so we (the students) trust that you are the right person for the job.

As the new superintendent, you may find yourself looking for ways to improve this already thriving district–and we hope you’ll be looking to us, the students, for input.

It’s no surprise that academics are extremely important to Pleasant Valley–not only in class, but also in our extracurriculars. The students who participate in after-school academic opportunities, such as Future Physicians of America, History Bowl or robotics, can sometimes find themselves overshadowed by larger clubs like Spartan Assembly or theatre.

FPA student president and Science Bowl captain, Sujay Marisetty said, “I hope our new superintendent has a bigger focus on academic-centered clubs, offering more opportunities for students who would like to participate in them.” The encouragement and support from PV administrators, including the superintendent, could help these clubs flourish.

I hope our new superintendent has a bigger focus on academic-centered clubs, offering more opportunities for students who would like to participate in them.”

— Sujay Marisetty

I wish the biggest problems we had in this district were limited to academic clubs, but we both know that is not realistic. That brings me to bigger issues. The way in which mental health issues are handled at the high school have caused issues for others in the past. Senior Sheridan Culp shared an experience from an anonymous friend who recently went through some of these problems first hand. “She was reported on the P3 app and basically the counselor talked to her, called her parents and told them to get her a therapist, which they couldn’t afford. It wasn’t the best way of handling it, especially since she didn’t feel like she had many problems in the first place.”

The counselors of PVCSD have done wonderful work, and with the addition of more counselors this year, the attention to mental health issues have surely seen progress. However, our district can do better.

Students should be educated in how to recognize a silent cry for help and in the importance of speaking up. The real issues of today can’t always be taught from our textbooks. School violence is at an all-time high, cyberbullying is a real problem present in any given high school, suicide rates are at alarmingly high levels and an average teen’s stress is far more elevated than in years past, yet there is no mental health education in our curriculum. That should change.

We have confidence that you can help lead us into a future where these issues are better addressed.

Several peers have told me they are happy to know that our district has confirmed a superintendent who truly understands the district just as his predecessor does. Senior Rishab Verma expressed his opinion that a superintendent should have close ties to the district. “Someone who knows what has worked and what hasn’t will be able to bring fresh ideas to make the district even better.”

Striving to become more involved with the school on a personal level will be beneficial for both you, the superintendent, and for the students. In order to find success in this position, the ideal candidate must be welcoming and show kindness.

You, Mr. Strusz, are no stranger to being welcoming and kind. Although we haven’t met, I’ve heard many wonderful stories from students who’ve had even the smallest interaction with you, and they remember it still to this day. Senior Odin McDonald shared an experience from several years ago. “When I was still in elementary school, I would go to the junior high with my sister a lot. One time I got lost, and Mr. Strusz walked me around the school looking for her, all while asking about the things I was doing in class and what I’m excited for in upcoming years. I even caught up with him again throughout Homecoming week,” he said. You have already made a difference in our district for students of all ages and we are excited to see what else you have in store.

Your kindness and affability, at least for students, has put you above any other candidate in my eyes. For a student to remember such a short interaction after six years is something very powerful. We know that the school board has made the right decision, and we cannot wait to watch you find enormous success in this position you so obviously deserve.

As you begin a new chapter in your life and in our district’s history book, we wish you the best of luck–and we have your back.


Along with the rest of students here at PVHS,

Jimmy Guest ‘19