Coach Rick Ortega – 30 years
At the first faculty meeting of 2012, Eugene McDermott Headmaster Arnie Holtberg announced that a St. Mark’s legend would be retiring at the end of the school year. Coach Rick Ortega joined the St. Mark’s Faculty in 1982 as the Head Wrestling Coach and has elevated the program to national prominence during the past thirty years. Following his own achievements as a conference champion from the University of New Mexico, Coach Ortega brought a track record of success when he came to St. Mark’s, including four state championships as coach at Burges High School in El Paso. From 1982-2011, wrestling teams coached by Mr. Ortega have won 25 Southwest Preparatory Conference championships and 13 state championships (in both the private and public school divisions). He will retire with a dual meet record of 657–117 and the notable achievement of having coached 67 individual state champions and 62 National Prep All-Americans. He also coached his two sons, AJ ’93 and Aaron ’96. In recognition of his achievements as a wrestler and coach, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Lifetime of Service Wrestling Award. Coach Ortega is also featured on page 15 of this month's ReMarker student newspaper.
Dr. Henry Ploegstra – 28 years
Last fall, Headmaster Arnie Holtberg also announced the pending retirement of another St. Mark’s giant. Dr. Henry Ploegstra will bid farewell to 10600 Preston Road at the end of the 2011–2012 school year; a school he has called home for the last 28 years. Dr. Ploegstra joined St. Mark’s in 1984 and has held the Malcolm K. & Minda Brachman Master Teaching Chair for the past fifteen years. One of
his first contributions to St. Mark’s was the introduction of the first Harkness Table to the St. Mark's classroom, a teaching method he
was familiar with from his years at Exeter Academy. In his career at St. Mark’s, Dr. Ploegstra has served as English Department Chairman and helped design the original Humanities course for the 8th grade. He also helped design Senior Humanities, a course which meets the requirements for both AP English Literature and AP European History and integrates readings of significant literature with the time period in which it was written. In addition to his teaching duties, he coordinates the Duke Talent Identification Program for 7th Graders and serves on the Admissions Committee. Dr. Ploegstra serves as Verger for Evensong service, the annual Lessons and Carols service, and Baccalaureate. A fanatic about English church music, Dr. Ploegstra has traveled with the choir on numerous trips to England. And of course, throughout his time on campus he has been a constant figure in the stands for home games and fine arts presentations.
Please look for announcements regarding retirement celebrations in the coming months.