Heavy turnout as Stan Hanstad retires

DOWNEY - At the retirement party June 16 for Stan Hanstad, who leaves his post as of month's end as DUSD assistant superintendent for personnel services, an overflow crowd including members of his family, past and present associates, past and present fellow administrators, at least a couple of superintendents, teachers and staff, the chief of police, chiefs of departments, people he considers his 'adopted' sons and daughter, and people he calls, in all sincerity, his 'brothers', paid him tribute-for his 31 years of service in education, most of it (25 years) at the Downey Unified School District.He was commended for a good number of things: his hiring "only the best" teachers, for his work with 'at-risk' kids with SARB (Student Attendance Review Board), for his willingness to give a conflicted student a second chance, for his negotiating skills, for his handling tough situations, for his alert attention to detail. But most of all, he was praised for his caring attitude, for being there when somebody needed help, for going 'above and beyond'. (Board member Barbara Samperi says Hanstad was mainly responsible for righting a potentially unpleasant situation at Ward during the Highway 105 construction "precisely because he was so caring"). He was inundated with citations-from the offices of State Assemblyman Hector de la Torre, Don Knabe, Cong. Lucille Roybal-Allard, and from the Downey City Council, in unison calling him 'a friend'. Councilman Mario Guerra was more serious than usual when he presented Hanstad with a scroll from the city, avoiding levity, in keeping with the mood of the moment. Former superintendent Ed Sussman recalled their daily walks together along Downey Avenue to and from at least Downey High (one would guess that they talked, among other things, about cabbages and kings). Current superintendent Wendy Doty, who shed tears at the most recent board meeting when Hanstad's retirement was formally announced, later said, "He's been a trusted colleague and good friend. I'll miss him. I wish him well." Concurrently also a Councilmember, Roger Brossmer, who takes over Hanstad's former duties but at the downgraded title of director of personnel services, couldn't resist cracking a joke: "With everybody expressing sorrow at Hanstad's departure, I on the other hand must be the only one here happy to see him go." Hanstad all this time was clasping his grandson Stephen Jr. in his arms, depositing the two-year-old tot (who clapped when others clapped) in his family's bosom only when he took the podium to acknowledge the plaudits. Acknowledging everybody's presence, he went on to narrate exploits and episodes having to do with his police friends ("We go back a long way"); about Alex Husem, retired superintendent from Garvey but who at that time was the "first teacher I met when I first came down here from Santa Barbara"; about how he valued Dr. Mary Stauffer's 'unstinting support' through all these years; about his near tussle at one time (he served under Governors Wilson, Davis, and Arnold) with Gov. Schwarznegger's bodyguards when he was with Philip Chen, one of his 'adopted sons'; who unbeknownst to Arnold's cohorts was then fourth-ranked kickboxer in the world; about his relations with the "greatest district board", "greatest superintendent", and "greatest associates" in the world, "for which I feel especially blessed." Hanstad said he was particularly proud of his involvement with the following: TLC, the aforementioned SARB program, the school citation as well as the school policing program that became a state model, GOOD, Rotary (especially his work with the pancake breakfast), for bringing Darrell Jackson and his 1020 Club to the district, serving on the SAG (state advisory governing) and federal Juvenile Justice committees', DFCU, and his relations with the (three) unions (one of which has Jeff Orlinsky as head). Jackson declared, "Stan will leave a long-lasting legacy that will insure that at-risk kids are held accountable for their actions." This paper's publisher, Jennifer DeKay Givens, recalls that she and her friends at East Middle School were scared of Hanstad (he was vice-principal there then, c. 1986-87) because he would swat students for committing infractions. "My daughter Stefanie, Stephen Jr.'s mom and who was heavy with child that Wednesday, July 16," said Hanstad, "At 5:55 a.m. that same Saturday gave me a gift of another beautiful grandson, Dylan."

********** Published: June 24, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 10