Remembering Two Legends: The Retirements of Mr. Ziebarth and Chief Preblich
Jack Sexton '21
At Saint Thomas Academy, teachers are remembered for their efforts during their time at the Academy. For example, Mr. Rongitsch has a faculty award in his name. Furthermore, each middle school house is named after a former faculty member. Unfortunately, this year we will be saying goodbye to two of these greats, Mr. Ziebarth and Chief Preblich, who announced that they will be retiring after this school year.
Each cadet has the privilege of having Chief Preblich for freshman Military Leadership. Though the class entails exciting activities like watching Saving Private Ryan and shooting in the rifle range, Chief instills in every single cadet a sense of belonging, acclimating them to the Academy.
One infamous example of this is Chief’s scare tactics. I remember walking into leadership one day, knowing that we had a test. However, some of my classmates were unaware of this. When one student asked me for a pencil, I handed him one. Chief was quick to notice this, letting me know that if I lent that classmate a pencil, I would receive 5 demerits for CCD, conspiracy to commit deception. I had no idea what this meant, but I know that it did not sound good. I quickly understood that I would need to be prepared for class every day, or else I would have to suffer the consequences.
His gentle but strict demeanor teaches cadets what they have to expect for the next three years. The previously mentioned example does just that. However, it is not so much the threat of receiving demerits that prepares the freshman. I will never forget the most important from freshman leadership; we are here to learn from the seniors. Chief made sure that we recognized our place in the Corps, and that we must move up the ranks as we get older. I will always remember him telling us that the seniors are in charge, and that we must look up to them and follow their guidance.
Along with this advice, he offered his own guidance, giving us the strengths to learn and grow into a senior. Outside the classroom, his teaching continues. As the coach of the Rifle Team, he mentors the top high school shooters in the school, which happen to be some of the top shooters in the country.
Chief Preblich is much more than a Rifle Team coach and leadership teacher. He is a friend and mentor for cadets. Joe Brennan, a member of the Rifle Team, remembers something Chief told him a couple of years ago: “He told me he could’ve retired long ago, but his love for teaching and working with the boys so much that he could not leave.” Chief’s dedication to teaching and coaching has helped Joe and innumerable other cadets substantially improve their technique.
As much as we are going to miss Chief Preblich, we are also going to miss Mr. Ziebarth, who has been at STA since 1980, teaching and coaching for over 40 years. Mr. Ziebarth has had many roles at the Academy. He has always taught different levels of history over the years, while also coaching for the football team.
You can always count on Mr. Ziebarth to be standing outside his room in the morning and after school, greeting cadets and wishing them a good night. He never fails to be an extremely positive person, asking every that walks by how they are doing, how their break went, or how their sports season is going.
I am someone that has never had Mr. Ziebarth as a teacher, but I know every morning when I walk by his classroom, I will be greeted by a, “Hey Sexton, how are you doing, buddy,” which always makes my morning. These seemingly simple, quick interactions make a huge difference for me, and for many other cadets.
Last spring, we all were sent home. However, Mr. Ziebarth felt like something was missing. He mentioned during the Father Son banquet that, “All he wanted to do was come home,” and by home he meant the Academy. When we finally returned to school this fall, he felt like his heart was full again, able to see all the boys in the classroom. Even though Mr. Ziebarth is returning to his home, he will always have a special place at the Academy, and the Academy will always be his second home.
While the retirements of Chief Preblich and Mr. Ziebarth are bitter sweet, we wish them all the best in their next stage of life, hoping they will return to their second home. Even though their retirement is a goodbye, we will never forget the memories shared with Chief and Mr. Ziebarth. Their presence at Saint Thomas Academy will forever be in the building and in our hearts.