Bacon: A Recipe for Success

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Bacon: A Recipe for Success

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Standing tall, John Bacon has a commanding presence over the main foyer. Students mill about, waiting for the first bell. He strikes up friendly conversation with them, addressing them by their names and asking about their weekend activities with genuine interest.

“There’s many things that I love about being principal at City High School,” Bacon said. “One thing that stands out is the opportunity to work with young men and women throughout their whole high school career.”

Bacon has developed a different relationship with each class of students he has seen come through City, and continues to value the opportunities to contribute to the growth and development of each new and departing class.

“I get to watch them have a great education and grow into confident and successful young men and women and go out there and be leaders in our world,” Bacon said. “The moment from incoming freshman to walking across that stage at graduation is pretty special, and you get to feel like you’re part of their lives.”

It’s an experience he knows firsthand. Bacon is not only City High’s principal but a proud alumnus. His time at City High has shaped how he conducts himself today.

“It really helped me become who I am today. We had all our little groups, but there was a prevailing feeling that we all shared a bond above and beyond that. It was very special to be apart of that. We really bought into that belief that we were the school that leads,” Bacon said. “It made me value the opportunity to bring people together.”

Bacon keeps that belief close to his heart.

“I have a quote that hangs in my office: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ I love that idea of people coming together and I think it’s really satisfying to be a part of a group of people working together for a common goal.”

Both school policy and the general atmosphere at City High were very different before Bacon became principal. In the five years he’s been on the job, he has allowed both cellphones and water bottles to be used during school hours, and rescheduled spirit assemblies from the end to the middle of the school day. He also introduced the student advisory center, to help at-risk students stay on track.

“I don’t want anyone slipping through the cracks,” he said. “We want all students to be connected to this high school.”

It is this kind of passion for education that makes Bacon so concerned about the present condition of the Iowan education system.

“The budget situation in the State of Iowa is not where we need it to be right now. We rank 35th in school funding and we continue to worry about what the allowable growth will be for next year,” Bacon said. “We need to lead the nation in public education and we need to fund our schools at a higher level than we do right now.”

While Bacon recognizes the difficulties surrounding this issue, he also sees the importance of having a well-funded public school system

“I realize there are difficult choices and I realize that obviously I’m biased but we’ve got to find a way to do that,” he said. “What a great thing to be known for, what a great thing to lead in. I really believe that that is important.”

The issue hits especially hard for Bacon, as City High is expected to experience significant growth in the next year.

“We badly need some staffing here in City High to continue to offer the great programing that we’re accustomed to,” he said. “Our high school is growing and we need to add staff to keep pace with that growth, so this is an issue I’m very closely following.”

And it is not just budget cuts that are worrying Bacon; potential changes in school boundaries are also a continuing concern.

“School boundaries are also critical. This, I think, is the number one issue facing this community’s education system, perhaps of my lifetime.” Bacon said, “How we choose to set the boundaries matters a great deal, because we have one opportunity to get it right, and we need to make sure we are setting the stage for all three schools to be thriving, successful places.”

As the principal of an incredibly diverse school, Bacon knows the importance of variety in a school body, but also sees the value in having equally empowered schools.

“I think it’s a good thing we’re not going the cookies cutters of each other, we’re not going to be identical, but I think its a good thing for the enrollment, for the socioeconomic make up, for all three schools to be healthy, vibrant, diverse places,” he said.

But through all of issues and difficulties that come with being a principal, Bacon has maintained the same five-point vision about City High’s future.

“To me, part of what that means to be a great comprehensive high school is five things. Academic excellence. Students have the opportunity to earn an outstanding education,” Bacon said. “Co-curricular activities that operate at the highest level in this state are a very important part of high school and we expect to be very competitive in interscholastic activities.”

Third on Bacon’s list: connections to City High School.

“I want every single student to find their special place here, to find something special that they’re a part of,” he said.

Bacon also sees the importance of both a healthy learning environment and strong school spirit.

“Number four is the learning environment built on respect and kindness for each other,” he said.

Sophomore Adam Zabner experienced firsthand Bacon’s commitment to creating that environment.

“Because of passport contingencies not noticed by the travel agency, I wasn’t able to get on a plane to France when I got to the airport,” Zabner ‘16 said. “Bacon came in to my math class and took me out, angrier than I was. He was yelling about how he was going to call the travel company and make them give me my money back. Bacon was so upset and passionate that my friends thought I was in trouble.”

And number five is having strong school spirit.

“Its understanding that it is special to be a City High Little Hawk, and that you are part of great tradition,” Bacon Said.

Bacon has many quotes and mottos that he lives by, but one truly captures how he leads the school.

“‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ I really believe if you’re going to do something go all in, bring some enthusiasm,” he said. “That’s contagious. So I ask our students to remember that and put their heart into what they do.”