This story is one of a continuing series, highlighting the lives of Paoli High School graduates and their reflections on high school life.
Come to any PHS athletic event. Look around in the stands. Walk around the facilities. Odds are, you are going to see Athletic Director Darek Newkirk. Newkirk will likely be moving concessions products, conducting referees to their designated dressing rooms, making sure visiting teams are taken care of or being hospitable to all the fans who attend the event.
Though Newkirk loves his job and likes doing those tasks, his favorite role as athletic director is being the number one Ram fan. His love for the Rams is certainly heightened by his occupation, but the roots of his fandom comes from another source. Newkirk is an alumni of PHS.
Newkirk, who is a 1996 graduate of Paoli, attended Indiana State after graduation and graduated with a BA in Mathematics Education. After receiving his degree, Newkirk moved back to Paoli, where he married his high school sweetheart, Abby Combs, and began coaching and teaching at his former school.
“I coached track and football when I came back from Terre Haute. I was very lucky to have been able to coach track with my father, Darrell,” said Newkirk.
Newkirk now has two kids. Max is a seventh grader at PHS and Libby is a fourth grader at Throop Elementary. His wife Abby is also a part of the Paoli Community School faculty and works as a speech-language pathologist at Throop.
Reflecting back on his four years as a high schooler, Newkirk has many fond memories of PHS, as well as many great experiences that happened right in the halls we walk today.
“My favorite memories of high school all involve hanging out with my friends. Whether that be in class, at games, at school functions or at practice, we always seemed to have a great time,” said Newkirk.
Newkirk, who still walks the halls of PHS everyday, is a great source to go to for seeing how times have changed throughout the years.
“I would say the biggest change since I was in high school is how the trends have changed. Trends in lingo, clothing and what is cool and what is not cool. Every generation has their different trends, and that’s definitely the biggest difference in each generation I have seen since I graduated,” said Newkirk.
As for advice to current students, Newkirk has some simple words of advice. As well as some words of wisdom for after high school.
“Enjoy high school while it lasts. You can’t redo it. Make sure to be involved; that makes the experience much better. When you graduate, go out and see what the world has to offer outside of Paoli,” said Newkirk.
Story by Garrett Vincent