Vail schools: Battle Mountain bids trio farewell |

Vail schools: Battle Mountain bids trio farewell

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyPrincipal Brian Hester laughs in Eagle-Vail, Colorado as he is presented with an incriminating photo from his high school years by accountability committee member Janet DeClark Friday at a farewell ceremony

VAIL, C0lorado ” It’s the end of an era at Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail, Colorado.

From the campus to the principal to the office manager who worked at the school for nearly 30 years ” things are changing.

Battle Mountain students said goodbye to three longtime faculty and staff members at school Friday ” Principal Brian Hester, French teacher Susan Chipman and office manager Judy Pena. Collectively, the three have worked at the school for nearly 50 years.

The school held a big assembly in the gymnasium, where they presented Hester with a small fishing boat and an embarrassing picture of him from his high school years in the early 1970s. Hester had no idea part of the scheduled assembly was a farewell wish for him, but he said he was honored.

“It was cool,” Hester said. “This is a neat group of kids.”

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Hester has been Battle Mountain’s principal for four years, earning the 2008 Colorado High School Principal of the Year award. He’s not sure what he’s going to do next, but he knows he’s not retiring from education entirely. He said he wants to continue doing something, be it teaching or coaching or some other position.

He’ll miss the tight community at Battle Mountain High School, he said, and they’ll miss him.

“I’ll miss his kindness,” said Kayla Sanders, a junior. “You get along with him so well, no matter who you are.”

Hester’s approachability is something the students say they’ll miss. He would chat with anyone and cared about every student, said Ashley Bennett, a junior.

Hester said he’ll also miss Pena, the dedicated office manager who worked with him since he became principal at Battle Mountain. Pena not only worked at Battle Mountain for 28 years and the Eagle County School District for 33 years, she also went to Battle Mountain High School before it had a name.

“I was a freshman when Battle Mountain (High School) started,” she said. “We chose the school colors, the mascot and the name of the school.”

Pena lived in Minturn for many years and now lives in Red Cliff. She said she figured she’s put in enough years at the school and it’s time for a break. She plans to stay in the area for a while and then who knows.

Susan Chipman, a Battle Mountain French teacher for nine years, also wants to stay in the valley for a while, she said. Her immediate retirement plans involve a lot of traveling ” she’s excited to have enough free time to see the world.

As for Battle Mountain, she too will miss the people. Chipman ran the Gracious Savior preschool for six years before becoming a teacher at Battle Mountain ” she’s literally watched many of her students grow up.

“The last of my preschoolers are graduating (this year),” she said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism