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Pardee Hammer and Duncan (copy)

Pardeeville High School Principal Jack Hammer, left, congratulates graduate Duncan Fleiner during the school's graduation ceremony on May 26.

PARDEEVILLE — School officials here are looking for a new high school principal following the resignation of John “Jack” Hammer.

Hammer accepted the middle school principal position in Mauston, the Pardeeville School District announced Monday. Hammer worked for more than 20 years in the Mauston School District as a high school science teacher before replacing Jason LeMay in Pardeeville in the summer of 2016.

“It’s with mixed emotions that I leave such amazing things going on here,” Hammer said Tuesday. “That’s not only with the building projects that we see progress in every day, but with our students and staff.”

The Pardeeville School Board is expected to accept Hammer’s resignation at its next meeting July 16, which also is when Hammer is expected to officially be hired in Mauston.

“He definitely had good rapport with students,” Pardeeville Superintendent Gus Knitt said. “He worked hard here and helped to move us forward.”

Pardeeville so far has received 13 applicants for the job after posting it late last month, and the district will continue to accept applications until next Friday. The district is expected to begin interviewing candidates July 19, Knitt said, with its goal to hire the school’s next principal before Aug. 1. If the district cannot find a suitable candidate before then, it would consider an interim principal for the 2018-19 school year.

“But with what we’re seeing on paper so far, we should be able to find someone,” Knitt said.

Hammer’s tenure is highlighted by the passage of an $11.9 million construction referendum that includes a new performing arts auditorium, for which construction started in the spring. Hammer and Knitt also singled out the school’s FFA team advancing to national competition and the boys basketball team qualifying for the WIAA state tournament this past March.

Hammer’s wife and three children still live in Mauston. Two of their children attend Mauston High School, while the other graduated from the school last month.

“I thanked the staff here for working incredibly hard to let our students compete with the larger schools,” Hammer said of his time spent in Pardeeville. “If this wasn’t a move back to my hometown, I don’t think I’d be leaving.”

Knitt said Hammer played a key role in planning for the construction referendum, which includes remodeling the middle/high school building in addition to the auditorium. This past school year, Pardeeville High School started recognizing its students during graduation for their community service — an idea of Hammer’s, Knitt said — and Hammer also started a rotation schedule for replacing uniforms in athletics.

“I can’t fault him for leaving with his family still remaining in Mauston. Certainly being able to go back and work in that district makes it easier on his whole family,” Knitt said. “That’s something we advocate here in Pardeeville, how family is important, and that goes for staff as well as our students.”

Mauston Middle School holds about 300 students in grades 6-8, while Pardeeville High School has a population of about 230.

“I’m so appreciative of how welcoming Pardeeville was and how the community supported me and the school in general,” Hammer said. “Pardeeville will always be remembered as a good place in my life.”

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau