Herpich eyes equation end
For 40 years, C.R. Herpich has been teasing high school students with mathematical equations. In his 38 years at Baldwin High School, he could be found teaching, coaching or peering through a magnifying glass in the dark room developing film. This spring, he will retire.
Jumping back a few decades, Herpich recalls being a new teacher here at Baldwin.
"I had two of the greatest classes ever my first year here," Herpich said. "My Advanced Math class and my Algebra I classes were exceptional. The Advanced Math classes made me feel at home and the Algebra I class was one of the best Algebra Is ever."
In college, he was on the Emporia State National Champion cross country team and was responsible in starting cross country at BHS. He coached cross country for 17 years. Since then, the boys and girls have claimed 10 state champion titles and have been runner-up three times.
He was also briefly involved in the football program, in charge of jump-starting the team with some early fall season conditioning.
"He was a very polite guy when I met him and still is," said Merle Venable, former BHS head football coach. "If you can't get along with him, then you can't get along with anyone. I regard him as a man with a brilliant personality."
Herpich and Venable coached track together for 18 years. Herpich later became the head track coach and led it for 12 years.
"When I got here, the track program was really down," Venable said. "Mr. Herpich was very instrumental in making the track team competitive."
One of many notable accomplishments he did in those 30 years was starting the Baldwin Invitational Tournament track meet. During that time of coaching, Herpich speaks of the school transportation that was used by the two.
"Coach Venable and I started with Army Surplus vehicles," Herpich said. "We had a '57 Chevy with rusted-through fenders and a '63 Chevy van that a student had to sit in the front seat and hold the shift lever in place as we went down the road. We moved into the modern age in the mid-70s with our first mini-van."
Despite being a coach, his real purpose here was education. He's taught everything from General Math to Advanced Math II (Calculus) and also has taught photography and Astronomy. Herpich is very confident with the school's math department and any former student could complain about its challenging material.
"I think there is no doubt that BHS has one of the strongest math departments in the state," Herpich said. "The hardest part of leaving will be not working with these dedicated people anymore. As you probably know, the math department is a pretty tight group."
"I am very glad that I have had Mr. Herpich as my math teacher," junior Katelyn Miles said. "He had a way of teaching that made it very easy and enjoyable to learn."
When asked about the best methods of cheating he has witnessed over the years, he claims that he has had some very sly students over the years.
"In class, I don't know," Herpich said. "However, some of my track runners used to have their favorite culverts to hide in when they were supposed to be out on road runs."
Fellow teacher Charles Holvoet will not soon forget Herpich's presence here at BHS.
"It's been great working with him," Holvoet said. "Being a bit of a conspiracy theorist, he's very much an individual. He helps people if they need it and he's happy to do it."
When it comes to quality, Herpich handles like a Mercedes Benz.
"I have benefited by working in a group that are of strong professionals, who are good at what they do, and he is that," Holvoet said.
When the new high school opened, it was simply a moving process for Herpich, who has taught at all three high school buildings.
"All three have been unique," Herpich said. "The old-old building had plaster falling from the walls and ceiling during class. The new-old building (junior high) with no windows made a great darkroom, and the new building with windows has a nice view and a great darkroom."
On the contrary, the majority feeling of the faculty during that time was concern for Herpich as he discovered that he was diagnosed with cancer.
"Right after we moved to this building, we found out that he had cancer and had to undergo extensive therapy," Holvoet remembers. "It really pulled the group together as we supported him."
"Not only has he been a close friend, but he's a man of courage," Venable said. "He has battled a serious case of cancer and is just one of the best friends I've ever had."
After his battle with cancer, Herpich still continued to teach but is now looking forward to retiring.
"I'm ready to retire, but not sure what to expect," Herpich said. "I think coach Venable has trips planned for us. I hope to get more involved in photography and will probably have to start shooting color again."
He claimed there would be many things he would miss about teaching.
"I will definitely miss teaching," Herpich said. "I will not miss recording grades, grading tests and yelling at students. I will not miss NCA, state assessments or curriculum directors. I most definitely will miss the students and the good times in class. That part will be tough. I will also miss all the teachers and staff. They are a great group. I will probably have to come back for lunch often."
"I think that he's going to leave a tremendous void here at the high school that will be very difficult to replace," Venable said.
"He wanted excellence," Holvoet said. "There was a standard of excellence that he looked for and wanted to achieve and we will miss that."
Holvoet and Venable appreciate his presence at the school and think of him with great value. As do many, they hope nothing but the best of luck for him after he retires.
"It's reached the end part of his career, not life," Holvoet said. "I wish him the best on a really interesting life after this."
"We will remain to be close friends," Venable said. "Soon, we will be making plans to travel to Colorado and New Mexico."