John H. Wredling, former superintendent of St. Charles Unit District 303 from 1958-1972, and the man Wredling Middle School is named for, will serve as grand marshal for the 15th annual St. Patrick's Parade. The parade will step off at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 15, on Main Street, between Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue. Wredling will ride in a Model T near the front of the parade, followed by the Wredling Middle School Cheerleaders.
A World War II veteran, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and is a member of St. Charles Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5036.
Wredling grew up in Aurora, graduating from Aurora West High School and, later, Aurora College. He taught there at the middle school level, before taking a job in West Virginia. After the service, he returned to West Virginia for a short time before moving back to Aurora with his wife.
Wredling was working as assistant superintendent of schools in West Aurora when retiring District 303 Superintendent George Thompson (for whom Thompson Middle School is named), suggested Wredling apply for the job.
Wredling implemented a lot of changes during his tenure, including the introduction of a girls' sports program in St. Charles. He started with a girl's basketball team, which took off, and added additional programs soon after. He also granted approval for an orchestra program when a teacher proposed the idea. He gave her free reign to organize and implement the program, knowing that she had the knowledge and ability to do it.
Hiring good people and working collaboratively is something that Wredling feels is important to success. He focused on what he liked best from each leader he's worked with and incorporated that into his own style. He notes that he has had the privilege of having wonderful Boy Scout Leaders and principals, as a teacher, and that they all contribute to your life if you let them.
Additionally, he focused on hiring good teachers because they are so vital to the school system. He often went on recruiting trips to find the best talent. He seems to have been very successful, noting that he was responsible for hiring Ray Rogina, who is now mayor of St. Charles. When asked to reflect on Wredling's service to St. Charles, Rogina stated, "As an educator and now mayor of St. Charles, it is easy to characterize the influence of John Wredling on our community. Mr. Wredling is a dignified true gentleman who always has presented himself with class, been a role model for so many, and been the consummate public servant. His value to our town: priceless."
Wredling's advice to young people today is to "be involved … in clubs, school, church, everything. Contribute back to what's been given to you." It's advice he's certainly qualified to give, having served organizations such as Boy Scouts, Rotary Club, and the VFW in Aurora and St. Charles. Additionally, Wredling has served on county committees and was active in his church.
When asked how he feels about turning 100, he says, "It's just another day. I've never paid any attention to age. I've just enjoyed everything I've done and a wonderful family with three children."
Wredling's celebration will include a trip to Wredling Middle School on Monday, something he does every year not only on his birthday, but on the first day of school and for graduations. He modestly jokes about the school having been named in his honor, "They ran out of names," he said.