Glen Larsen never imagined he would spend 20 years at Adams Central Junior/Senior High School.
He had served as superintendent at two schools prior to the position opening up at the Class 6 school just outside of Hastings.
“I had a good friend who was a superintendent at another Class 6 high school. He called me and encouraged me to check into the job here at Adams Central,” Larsen said in a recent interview. “I probably didn’t realize I was going to spend 20 years here, but I did, and it was a great 20 years, great 20 years.”
Larsen, age 80, started his career in education at age 17 teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in a now unincorporated northeastern Nebraska community. While in college, he taught school, as well, and went on to post 47 years in education.
Larsen served as principal for one year and superintendent for three years at Deshler Public Schools before going to Fullerton where he led for a decade.
Then in 1981, he took the job at Adams Central and never looked back.
“Every school I had been had been really good,” he said. “(Coming to Adams Central) was a chance, I think, to get to a little larger system.”
At the time, Larsen had three children at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the pay increase was certainly enticing.
Larsen said he was also intrigued by the challenges of leading a Class 6 school with a larger student population.
“And from talking to other superintendents who knew about Adams Central and the community and type of school said things that were really pretty positive. There were some challenges,” he said.
In his 20 years, Larsen said, he loved the students, the staff, the school board, the parents and patrons of the district.
“And always felt the entire staff was important, not just the certificated but also the classified,” he said. “I had great administrative assistance and a great school board.”
That’s what Larsen said kept him in the district for two decades.
“Why would I want to leave?” he asked. “I talked to other superintendents who were having all these problems, and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got it made.’”
Larsen served as head coach for golf and the football program at different times in his career.
The football coaching gig came as a necessity just a few years after he came to the district. The team had been suffering through seasons without a win for several years when Larsen said he went to the school board saying enough was enough.
Eventually, Larsen went to the school board. Because he was only person on staff with experience as a head coach, he became head coach of the football team.
In his first year, the football team increased from about 25 to more than 60 participants. That number had jumped to 75 by the time he left the position five years later.
“When you’ve got more kids, you’re going to have more talent, more ability, so the first year we won three games and that’s the first time we’d won any games in six years,” Larsen said.
The number of wins increased each year as Larsen continued to mentor the assistant coaches to the point that he finally went to the board suggesting Bill Carlin take over the program.
Carlin took over the program in 1989 and ran it through 2013. Shawn Mulligan has coached the team since that time.
“I feel part of the head coach job was I gave responsibility to those other coaches,” Larsen said.
So he gave each assistant a job and a responsibility so they were even more invested into the program.
“Giving those guys that kind of responsibility, they worked a heck of a lot harder to be successful,” he said. “I think after I discontinued being head coach, those guys stayed and the success stayed with them.”
A major addition was added to the high school also during Larsen’s tenure. The original bond was for a new gymnasium and physical education facilities along with some enlarged and additional classrooms.
The way the bond vote was set up, voters could choose to vote for all, a portion or none of the project. In the end, voters supported adding classrooms but opted out of the gym addition.
In those intervening years, funds were put into a special building fund each year that were used to pay for the new gymnasium addition, which was built in 2003 and opened in early 2004.
“That was a couple years after I left,” Larsen said. “Had it been a bond issue, I don’t know if it would have passed or not, but they had the funds to go ahead and add on to the facility, which they needed. I think they’re very happy they have it.”
Larsen retired in 2001 and then went on to serve in an interim role at Blue Hill Public Schools for four years.
“I think education has been good for me, and I hope I was good for them,” he said.
Larsen spent several decades on the Educational Service Unit No. 9 board before retiring in 2017 when he was appointed to the Adams County Board of Supervisors.