On his 57th birthday, Aug. 29, friends and colleagues celebrated Mike Kriese’s retirement from the only place he’s ever worked, Half Day School, Lincolnshire. Ironically they celebrated his retirement in the home where he grew up with his siblings, mom, and grandma, Prairie House Tavern, Buffalo Grove. Mike’s grandmother owned a supper club restaurant below the upstairs apartment on Main Street.
Mike started his career in Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 long before he got his driver’s license. As a child he attended school at Half Day. Once he got to Stevenson High School, like all students there, he wanted wheels to get around town. He set his sights on a 1977 White Monte Carlo. Now, 40 years later, Mike’s wheels are motivating him once more. He is retiring from his career as a District 103 custodian and plans to enjoy life in his 2002 electric blue Corvette.
“We didn’t have a lot of money so I got a job as a night custodian at Half Day School the summer before I started high school. While walking to my night job I would see students leaving school in Firebird Trans Ams, Camaros, and Cutlasses and I knew I had to have one. A year later I started working full time at Half Day to save up for a car. I’ve been there ever since,” Mike said.
In a blink, decades have come and gone for Mike. He has loved the family he’s grown close to at Half Day School. He has seen the grades 3 to 5 school, the oldest school in Lake County, built in 1860, go through three additions due to enrollment growth, which at present is 648 students.
Mike never had a desire to leave the area. He grew up in Prairie View. He now lives in Buffalo Grove with his wife, Missy, and his step-children.
“Mike's not only a champion for the amazing curb appeal and overall cleanliness of Half Day School, he's also our resident historian! His presence and knowledge over the past 40 years will definitely be missed by the students and staff at Half Day School!” said Principal Jill Mau.
Added Mike’s boss, Director of Facilities Scott Gaunky, “I firmly believe that Mike’s stellar work ethic, and his eye for detail, were his greatest contribution to the district. He genuinely cared about the students and staff as well as the appearance of the building. Mike will be missed by everyone.”
From setting up the cafeteria for lunches to shoveling snow off of sidewalks his job has been anything but routine. He had a groundhog hiding out in a bathroom for several days and a hawk stuck in the courtyard, both of which he successfully got back to their natural environment. Of course, it’s no wonder the hawk came to visit as the school’s mascot is a hawk, Mike said.
He plans to continue working but Mike also intends to take road trips on his Honda motorcycle and in his Corvette. In the near future, he would like to retire to a warmer climate.