Tree planted to honor departing principal
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News June 4, 2012 7:32PM
Kenyon Woods Middle School Principal Sue Welu tries to hold back her emotions Monday during a tree dedication ceremony to honor her retirement. The PTO in South Elgin helped in planting the tree. Welu "opened" Kenyon Woods where she has served as principal for eight years. She became a teacher in U-46 in 1979 after having attended U-46 schools throughout her school years. June 4, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:24AM
SOUTH ELGIN — There were several options as to what the Kenyon Woods Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization could do to honor retiring Principal Sue Welu.
What she chose was a maple tree to be planted on the 8-year-old building’s west side.
“The pick was symbolic,” said PTO president Christina Malecke. “This tree was once just a seed, much like Kenyon Woods was once just an idea.”
Welu, a 33-year veteran with Elgin School District U46, spent the last eight years as principal at Kenyon Woods.
The first year of that time, Welu was the principal at both Streamwood’s Canton Middle School and at Kenyon Woods. The South Elgin school, however, was empty for the first year after construction was completed due to budget restraints in the district.
Once the $17 million, 146,600-square-foot, triangular building was opened, it was immediately filled with 960 pupils. On Monday, the last official day of classes for the 2011-12 school year in U46, there were 1,000 children in the building.
For Welu, it was her last day officially working in the district.
Of all of the things the PTO could have done to honor Welu, she asked for the tree outside. The landscaping needed it, she said.
Welu was “the best principal in the whole wide world,” Malecke told the students who gathered outside on Monday morning.
Messages and hugs from the students echoed that sentiment.
“Thanks for all your hard work to keep us happy,” one student wrote.
“My aunt will be a principal in North Dakota next year. I told her she has to be just like you,” another said.
“We never talked much, but you are a great principal and have great ideas. We all want to thank you for keeping the school going,” wrote another.
When it was her turn to speak, Welu had to take a few moments to stop from crying.
“If I can hold it together … I can’t,” she said before giving herself a moment to compose.
“I want to thank each and every one of you — the students, the parents, the staff, for coming today to support me. I truly appreciate it,” she said.
Welu also promised to be there in the audience when each of her current seventh- and eighth-graders graduate from high school. They should look into the audience and know she is there for them and proud of them, she said.
“What comes after high school?” she asked.
“College!” echoed a sea of young voices.
“And make sure my tree doesn’t die,” Welu said.