Aaron Stecker’s favorite part of his job—associate principal in charge of activities at Kennedy High School—isn’t what you think.

“When I’m the first one in the gym and you turn the lights on and there’s just a quiet, dull hum of the lights. And the anticipation of this place is going to be full in about an hour. And kids are going to have an opportunity to grow and thrive, learn, compete, and have fun,” he explains. “And then when it’s all done, everybody goes home and I’m the last one in the gym. That dull, quiet hum of the lights is there and you kind of think ‘All right. That was another good night.’”

Stecker has been at Kennedy High School for over 20 years, and in his current role for 15 years. Growing up, athletics and activities played a major role in his life. Not only did he play in most sports, but he also participated in band and jazz band. His coaches and directors influenced him immensely.

“Outside of my parents, the biggest influences in my life were my coaches and my directors,” he says. “I couldn’t shake the influence and the way that athletics and activities shaped me in high school, and just knew I had to get engaged in that.”

Stecker initially planned to enter the medical field, but had a change of heart.

“One of the reasons I wanted to shift from the medical field was I didn’t want to be on call on a beeper for 70-80 hours a week,” he explains. “Now here I am as an activities director.”

The days can be very long for activities directors with many sports and activities—at Kennedy, there are 23 athletic programs and many activities such as show choir and academic decathlon that students participate in. Stecker is involved in all aspects of every event, from beginning to end.

“Ultimately my role, as I see it, is to create opportunities for coaches and kids to thrive,” says Stecker. “That’s what my job is.”

The Kennedy staff is what makes Stecker’s work special.

“The people I’ve worked with here have challenged me, helped me grow, given me opportunities I probably don’t deserve,” he says. “That’s the best part of being a Cougar is I have people who love me, love my family, love my kids—and that’s why I’ll always love this place.”