Hanson scores with festive retirement celebration

Students screamed, clapped, waved their arms and continuously chanted, “Mr. Bob!”

It was clearly Lakeridge Elementary School head custodian Bob Hanson’s massive moment and he absorbed it with a goofy grin, appearing somewhat shocked at all the attention rocketing his way.

As Hanson balanced himself on the stage in the pulsating and packed gymnasium, he glanced into the crowd and witnessed Leo the Lion — the school mascot with Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Fred Rundle nestled inside the costume — roaring through the cheering crowd and bounding toward the stage.

The incessant “Mr. Bob!” chant came feverishly to life once again.

Hanson’s eyes would further light up — while he miraculously kept his spectacles in place — as the rambunctious Seahawks mascot Blitz jetted into the gym, following the path that Leo had paved for him to reach the proverbial goal line where Hanson proudly stood. Deafening applause struck the air — it was like Beast Quake on repeat.

The school was in full celebration mode on the afternoon of June 11 for Hanson, who is retiring after 35 years at Lakeridge and 38 overall with the district. During the surprise gathering, Hanson received a certificate of achievement and a Seahawks swag bag, which included a certificate for up to four people to attend training camp VIP style.

Four student council members — Anisa Velamoor, Taylor Hua, Kaira Reddy and Quincy Larsen — took to the stage to sing Hanson’s praises, as did emcee/fourth-grade teacher Amber Bobst.

Hua told the crowd before handing Hanson a thank-you card: “We, the students, appreciate all you have done to keep our school clean and running smoothly.”

Bobst noted prior to Hanson’s arrival on the scene: “For 38 years, Mr. Bob has worked so hard to make sure we have a clean school.” She said that Hanson sported a good attitude, always lent a helping hand and never complained about doing his job.

Hanson was described as being humorous, kind, dedicated, influential, loyal, dependable, a sports fanatic and much more.

After the students showered Hanson with a standing ovation and joyfully sang along to The Beatles classic, “Hey Jude” (inserting “Hey Bob” into the tune), the man of the hour addressed the crowd.

“I just wanted to tell you, this is a complete surprise for me. It’s amazing. Thank you so much,” he said into the microphone.

After taking photos with Blitz and Leo outside the school, Hanson told the Reporter that as the revelry unfolded before his eyes, he thought, “Enjoy the moment.”

In retirement, the lifelong backpacker said he will hit the trails and learn how to paddleboard.

Reflecting on his career, Hanson said that as the school buildings have changed through remodeling, so has the instruction process within those walls.

“I think education is a lot better today than it used to be. We have better teaching techniques. With the implementation of technology, it’s just made it kind of more fun and interesting to learn,” he said.

Hanson made heaps of friends along the way and noted that he possesses class pictures from each year he performed his job at Lakeridge.

“It will be fun to look back on those and remember the people that I’ve worked with,” he concluded with a smile.

Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Andy Nystrom/ staff photo