Catching up with #JasonNation


Jason Reinecke

Jason Reinecke ran into former WO student Joshua at Urban Air

Kira Guerrin

 “Ya’Know? Ice cream is the best, whether it’s a single scoop, two scoops, or the concrete mixer, any type of ice cream is kind of like being a part of the West Ottawa Community. It never disappoints. Thank you for letting me be a part of this special place for the last nine and a half years. Go WO forever.” This was previous principal Jason Reinecke’s final pride Friday, where he announced his departure from West Ottawa, to begin his new journey as assistant superintendent of Grand Haven.

   ‘Twas a sad day for many to hear that #JasonNation was leaving West Ottawa. Students and staff continue school every Friday with a curd sized hole in their hearts, where “CHEEEESE CURRRRDS” once lived. West Ottawa does continue on without Reinecke, but the thought of him being at another school is bittersweet to most. Though he provided everyone with a wonderful goodbye during the 2021 Winter Assembly, they still miss him dearly. What might provide West Ottawa with the closure that it needs…. is checking in with the man himself

  Something many people in the WO community are probably wondering is how much or what Reinecke misses most about West Ottawa. He says, “There is no doubt it is the people.  I spent nearly ten years at WO, and formed a lot of relationships with staff, students and families.  I miss the people without a doubt.  I miss seeing students in the hallways and joking with them at lunch, or watching them perform in things like musicals, athletics, etc.” 

   When he talks about “the people” it’s valid to question if Reinecke still stays in contact with friends or staff from West Ottawa. In this next quote it’s obvious that he is still very close with many WO staff with the way he can poke fun at some of them. He says “There are a number of people that I still connect with through professional channels or social circles.  For some reason, Mr. Taylor was not a fan of the cheese curds announcements, so that was kind of awkward.  Especially, when you consider that I actually commemorated him with an honorary diploma.  Mr. Klassen, being a math teacher, is really passionate about a college that only wins fractions of championships, so that was always a bit weird.  Other than that, everyone is super friendly when I see them at an event in public.  The one person that I see most frequently is Mr. Kennedy.  WO is really lucky to have an Athletic Director as talented as him.”

   West Ottawa might also be curious as to what Reinecke is enjoying at his new district and how he is thriving. He continues to explain, “I am embracing the challenge of a new position in a new district.  Every day I am learning and growing.  I do believe that it is important in life.”

  The cheese curd tradition is something that we all miss dearly (except for Mr. Taylor apparently). Some may wonder, would bringing cheese curds over to Grand Haven be worth the nostalgia? Reinecke says,  “Cheese curds were a special bond between myself and the students at WOHS.  I will cherish those moments forever, and I could not even conceive trying to replicate those memories at a different district.” The amount this man genuinely cares about West Ottawa should fill everyone’s heart. Obviously he connects and cares for his new district dearly, but West Ottawa holds a very special place in his heart and it’s evident in all of his provided information.

  This next statement is just another example of how passionate Reinecke is about what he does. He says, “Every job or career will have “cons”, but it is important to use them as opportunities.  But there are definitely differences between the two positions.  A building principal gets to live and breathe in a building that is filled with teachers and students and be physically present when education happens.  While an assistant superintendent has the opportunity to impact an entire district and not just one building.  I would say those are the greatest features of the individual positions.”

   This was all interesting and important information about Reinecke. Learning about his new and old positions in different districts was a lovely way to connect with him again, but there might have been a few things West Ottawa didn’t know about him even when he was principal. WO probably wasn’t aware that Reinecke’s hobbies outside of school happen to be, “Spending time with family, hiking, watching my kids sports, and listening to true crime podcasts.” They also may have missed out on the fact that his favorite item on the Culver’s menu was the “Cookie Dough concrete mixer….it’s not even close.” They probably didn’t know that his favorite song is “Two Step – Dave Matthews Band” and his favorite movie is “Stand By Me” After digging deeper, it was discovered that his favorite quote is, “Follow three rules:  Do the right thing, Do the best you can and always show people you care.”  Lou Holtz. 

   Though West Ottawa students have a fantastic current principal (Shoutout to Mrs. Jernigan!), it’s important to remember the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Reinecke. He was a treasure and a joy to the high school. That can’t be taken for granted or forgotten. He wanted to leave the high school students with one piece of advice:

  “Here is what I would tell you and my old self.  You are going to make mistakes.  You are never going to be perfect.  There will be people along the way that will help you and some that don’t.  But never stop believing in yourself and follow your dreams.  Live life.  Be kind to others.”

   Cheese curds will always live on in student’ hearts, and so will the fond memories of #JasonNation.