ST. CHARLES – Students first walked through the doors of Wredling Middle School in 1995. Since then, they’ve celebrated every birthday of their school’s namesake, John Wredling, who will be 99 years old Saturday.
Nearly 1,500 students, staff, family and friends crowded into the gym Wednesday for an early birthday party.
“I don’t have a secret to my longevity,” Wredling said. “I’m just happy I wake up every morning.”
The school was decked out for the celebration with balloons, student-designed birthday cards and a birthday sign. Student Council President Sarah Sandecki and Vice President Katherine Swenson honored Wredling in their remarks about what he means to the students and how proud they are to attend the school that bears his name.
Wredling’s honors band performed, as did honors orchestra, which began with a surprise rendition of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”
Suzy Tokarski played the ukulele in her duet with Hannah Fohrman, and Erin Newman wowed the crowd with the song, “I Will Always Love You.”
Finally, the treble choir serenaded Mr. Wredling with “Happy Birthday,” as a giant cake bearing his birth year, 1914, was presented to him.
Wredling Principal Melissa Dockum handled the party’s master of ceremonies duty. She called Wredling “amazing” and an important part of the school’s culture, noting how he never misses the first day of school, Veterans Day, his birthday celebrations and graduations.
“Mr. Wredling loves our kids – kids in wheelchairs, kids with blue hair, kids on the honor roll and kids who don’t know they love learning yet. Mr. Wredling brings out the best in all of them,” she said. Wredling served as superintendent of District 303 from 1958 to 1972, paving the direction for St. Charles schools during a period of rapid growth in the district.
He’s also been an active participant in the American Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Boy Scouts of America.
But, after such a party, how will Wredling celebrate his 100th birthday?
“Same way as this one,” he said. “Hope I wake up!”