Mickelson tapped to lead RHS

Posted on 07/18/2022
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Kyle Mickelson named Interim Principal of Rifle High School

RIFLE – At the June 22, 2022 School Board meeting, the board approved the appointment of Kyle Mickelson as the Interim Principal for Rifle High School for the 2022-23 School year.

The move came after a comprehensive search and interview process in the spring left Garfield Re-2 without a clear choice to replace retiring Principal John Arledge. 

“It was clear, reading through all of the notes, observations, and comments, that although each of the interviewees had many good qualities, no one stood out as the right fit for Rifle High School,” explained Superintendent Heather Grumley. “We are confident that Mr. Mickelson is the perfect person to take on the role of Interim Principal and continue to lead RHS to even further greatness.”

Mickelson will begin his 17th year in the Garfield Re-2 School District in the leadership role of a school he has come to call home. Four years ago, he was tapped to fill the Assistant Principal role when then AP Anne Conoway unexpectedly resigned for personal reasons

“Our Assistant Principal had resigned in October, and John Arledge believed in me and needed somebody to step in,” explained Kyle.

Kyle taught for seven years at Rifle Middle School and five years at Rifle High School prior to taking on the Assistant Principal role.

He didn’t initially put his name into the hat to become Rifle High’s next principal, however, after watching the interview process unfold, he realized that there wasn’t a clear candidate emerging.

“I wanted the best person for the job,” he explained matter-of-factly. “I wanted it to be posted to find an amazing person for whom I could be an assistant principal. I wanted the process to play out.”

Kyle decided he could either sit back and wait for someone else to step up or put the ideas in his head into motion and see what happens. His first action as Principal comes from a paper he worked on for his administrative license during COVID.

“The prompt was, ‘If you’re going to make a first impression on a community member, parent, or student, what do you want your front entry to look like.’ I wrote the paper in the front entry of Rifle High School. I just started looking, and we have so much cool stuff here, but it’s not viewed in a way to highlight our tradition.”

This summer, Kyle got to work dusting, organizing and showcasing the awards in the front entry, and in the midst of it all, discovered a hidden gem -  a trophy from 1986, but the number one had fallen off of the year. It was a state runner-up trophy for the 1986 Girls' Basketball team that had been forgotten in the corner of the trophy case.

 “I’ve memorized all of the banners in our gym. There is not a 1986 Girls Basketball banner hanging in the gym. That’s going to change.”

After confirming with then-assistant coach Brad Skinner, Mickelson and RHS Athletic Director Chris Bomba will have a banner hanging ceremony in Jack Smith Gymnasium later this year. This is just one of the little things that Mickelson hopes to impact.

“I want to be sure we are honoring traditions and honoring the contributions of the past, but also we are bringing a new day to Rifle High School with new opportunities for kids. Rifle High School will be embracing the community that supports us, honoring the traditions of our school, and highlighting the successes of our students and staff.”

He hopes to bring clubs such as DECA and FBLA back to Rifle High and begin an alumni association.

Although he was not in the initial applicant pool, Mickelson is excited about the opportunity and possibly a future in this new role.

“While I didn't pursue this, I am excited about accepting this position,” he explained. “Rifle High School needed somebody, and I'm willing and excited to be that somebody to help the school that I love, in the town that I love. I’ve never really considered being a Principal as my dream job, but Rifle High School is my dream school.”

Garfield Re-2 will re-open the Principal position in the winter for the 23-24 school year.

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