Lundstrom Graduates with the Class of 2023!!


Cymona Abellard, Reporter

After 16 years at Sahuaro, R.J. Lundstrom, aka Lundy, aka Papa Bear is finally graduating along with the Class of ’23.  He said that the reason he is retiring is because, “I’m a grandfather, I have grandkids, and I want to spend a lot of time with them, and it’s time. It’s time to go to something different.”  Assistant Principal since 2012, he started at Sahuaro as a U.S. Government and Economics teacher until he got his master’s degree in 2010 in Educational Leadership. After that, he started his internship here at school, then interviewed and obtained the job as our vice principal. Ever since then, Lundy attends anything he can and makes friendships with students.  They even decorated his parking spot as an homage to him.

His family is very important to him, so he had many dedicated places on the walls of his office just for pictures of them.  Framed photos of his son and daughter-in-law, wife, and grandkids have taken up the space above his desk, and are now already gone in preparation for his anticipated departure.


He says, “Sahuaro is such a unique environment. The staff and the teachers get along so well, and I will miss that camaraderie, but the one I will miss the most is Mr. Estrella. We have been so tight-knit for the past 11 years, so I have realized that I will be sadder than I thought.”

Principal Estrella also has a lot of love for Mr. Lundstrom, adding, “Thank you for many many many many many years of service, and thank you for everything you did for this school.”

Other staff that he has been around a lot are the counselors because their offices are all surrounding his. Megan Boice and Tracey Echols jointly stated, “We’ll very much miss his joking and easy-going demeanor, and we appreciate that he is always supporting us. It has been great having a boss that always has your back.” A favorite memory that they have with Papa Bear is an event that happens daily. They said, “He brings us eggs every single day for breakfast that his wife makes in the morning for us, and has been for 5 years.” Not many people would go through the trouble to do that every morning, but that is just the type of man that Mr. Lundstrom is.

Science teacher Mitch Rutherford called him, “The man, the myth, the legend of the schedule…For all the booming announcements at PD and assemblies, for all the thoughtful and difficult discussions you’ve had with me, for always striving to make us Cougars, teachers, and students, better…We’ll miss you LUNDY!”  Alan Smith, Social Studies teacher added, “He always told you how it was. I’ve always respected his honesty and candor.” Choir teacher Suzanne Barnes stated, “He always had my back. I appreciate that!”  Native American Student Support Specialist, LaCher Pacheco, recalls what he told her when she started this year: “‘Welcome, to Sahuaro! What do you need? A bookshelf?  Here take mine.’ A very kind person who offered a piece of furniture that transformed an office into a comfortable work environment.”  Ms. Davis says, “Wishing you good times, good health, and good friends beside you in your retirement. Congratulations on your very well-deserved retirement.”

English teacher Eva Lange joked, “My favorite Lundy moment was when he publicly apologized to me in front of the entire staff during a PD in the cafeteria for being mean to me.  I had to shun him for weeks before he finally came around!  Now I just call him Papa Bear and give him a hug and can basically get away with anything.  It’s going to be tough to shmooze his replacement!  I’m going to miss him!”

Mr. Lundstrom feels that at the end of every chapter, it is time for something different. So the new topic he decided to pursue is an online business of some sort and his own podcast. He is not fully sure what he wants the podcast to be about, but he knows he wants it to be faith and conservatism based. These creative ideas are going to be very enjoyable for him and he will have his own schedule so that the time he needs to hang out with his family is available.

Mr. Lundstrom may be leaving, but the show must go on. Sahuaro has been interviewing people for the position, but it is going to be difficult trying to replace someone as amazing as Mr. Lundstrom. When asked if he had anything to say to the incoming vice principal, he said, “Learn the staff, make sure you spend time walking around and getting to know the students, always try to go to as many events as you can, and take time for yourself.” Mr. Lundstrom learned that it is very hard not to take the job home with you, but it is important to keep it separate.

“This year, I have gotten the opportunity to form a bond with Lundy.  He is someone that you can go to whenever you need a helping hand or just a hug.  Us in StuCo – we love him.  Me and Kilee call him Papa Bear,” says senior Lia Ghirardi, StuCo senior class treasurer.

Because of how much Mr. Lundstrom tried to have good relationships with the students, it was important that he talked about who his favorite senior class is/was. His answer to that question was, “The first one and the last one will always stick with me. The fact that I get to graduate with the class of 2023 is very special to me and I’ll never forget that.” Sahuaro will miss you very much Mr. Lundstrom, but we hope you are happy and healthy in the next chapter of your life, and you get to enjoy every second of it!

“We’ll miss you, Lundy!!”