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June 17. 2012 7:51PM

Retiring Litchfield principal honored with playground


In a surprise and informal ceremony Thursday, the new playground at Griffin Memorial Elementary School in Litchfield was named the Bo Schlichter Playground. A bench engraved with his name and the words, “In honor of his years of dedication to the students,” was unveiled. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON)

LITCHFIELD — Bo Schlichter's legacy as an understanding, patient educator will continue at Griffin Memorial Elementary School long after his retirement at month's end.

Thursday, excited students honored a man who has spent 35 years in education, with 26 years working in the Litchfield School District.

They surprised Schlichter, the Griffin Memorial principal, by naming the school's new play facility the Bo Schlichter Playground. An engraved bench with his name and the words, “In honor of his years of dedication to the students,” was unveiled.

Schlichter, 59, said he was humbled by the appreciation, which included a 6-foot magnolia tree planted by the local parent-teacher organization.

“I have mixed feelings about my retirement,” Schlichter said. “I love the job and I am really going to miss the kids.”

Chanting “Schlichter” repeatedly, the rambunctious elementary students were thrilled to recognize the principal of their small school.

“The kids really love him,” said Rebecca Feely, explaining his presence will be greatly missed in the school and in the Litchfield community.

Organizers of the playground committee said Schlichter's dedication to making the play facility a reality deserves to be remembered for a long time.

“We wanted to show him just how much we appreciate his support,” said Kathleen Follis, who spearheaded the playground initiative.

She said she was impressed they were able to keep the bench a surprise.

Schlichter is one of several administrators leaving the district at the end of the school year.

Also retiring are Campbell High School Principal Robert Manseau and Superintendent Elaine Cutler.

Scott Thompson, current principal at Newmarket Elementary School, has been chosen to replace Schlichter, while Campbell High Assistant Principal Laurie Rothhaus will takeover as principal there.

Brian Cochrane, current assistant superintendent and director of accountability and assessment for the Nashua School District will fill the superintendent's role July 1.

Derek Barka, school board member, said it is sad to see Schlichter go.

“The kids get so excited when he is around,” Barka said.

Schlichter has planned a trip to the Virgin Islands and Chicago, and he plans on spending more time fishing during his first year of retirement.

But he says he will continue to remain active in the community, volunteering as a recreational coach, scouting for the high school basketball team and assisting with the Boys and Girls Club.

khoughton@newstote.com

What's Next: Retiring Principal Bo Schlichter will be replaced by Scott Thompson on July 1.


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