End of an Era


Anna Finley

Dierkes has been a dedicated parent volunteer for 30 years

Michael Lowen and Ryan Van Kirk, Sentry Staff Reporters

Once this school year comes to an end, we will be losing  long term members of the Yorktown community. In addition to losing Principal Dr. Raymond Pasi, Paula Dierkes, who has been a dedicated parent volunteer for 30 years in our community will no longer be a parent at Yorktown. Growing up, Dierkes attended Yorktown and sent all five of her sons there as well. She has been very active in volunteering at the school and being a member of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

Dierkes has been the mother of Arlington students for the past 30 years, and during that time, she has learned many lessons about being a parent. Obviously, the end of this school year will be emotional when her youngest child, Steve Dierkes, graduates from high school.

“After doing something for 30 years, it becomes part of your identity.  Not only have I been a parent, but I’ve been a very active volunteer in the APS [Arlington Public Schools] system. Now that Steve is graduating, it’s the end of ‘my career’ as a volunteer.  I’m sad, but I’m looking forward to traveling and picking up a new hobby or two,” Dierkes said.

To put Dierkes’ time as an Arlington school parent in perspective, which started in 1987, Ronald Reagan was President. When her first son, Pat Dierkes, started his first year at Yorktown, 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest person to win the masters at age 21. She has been through the emotional and physical changes that have transpired during all of her time here.

“As the years passed, I got to know more and more with each son. I always feel welcomed at Yorktown,” Dierkes said.

Pasi has been the principal of Yorktown for 20 years, helping Yorktown become a better school and environment for students to learn. Dierkes has witnessed this change first hand.  

“I will be sad that other students won’t have the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Pasi’s school. They won’t be able to see him and talk to him. Hopefully, what he has established will be a part of the fabric of Yorktown and in a sense, they will feel him, too. My kids feel the same way. Dr. Pasi has such positive energy, they feel bad for the other students who won’t have the chance to experience it,” Dierkes said.

High school is a critical time in one’s life; it often entails making friends, forming good study habits and learning how to make important decisions. It is also a time where one can develop as an adult and start to define who they are, which is often a parent’s favorite part of their job.

“I [loved] watching them develop into their own person. It’s so weird to have five sons raised in the same home by the same parents and they are all so very different from one another. It really makes me feel good to see that they are close to each other despite the age differences.  I think that’s my favorite part, that they all enjoy each other,” Dierkes said.

The Arlington public school system is one of the best in the country, but sometimes parents and kids are looking for a different type of experience. Many parents have decided to send their kids to private schools; however, Dierkes never even considered leaving Yorktown.

“Yorktown feels like our family school.  Having all of us attend the same school makes it feel like we live in a small town, where everybody knows you.  Yorktown offers such a quality education, with a full spectrum of services, a tremendous amount of extracurricular activities, and a staff that is exemplary.  [I] feel very lucky to be able to send them to Yorktown,” Dierkes said.

After twenty years of being a Yorktown parent with Pasi as principal, Dierkes has seen all of the positive advantages that Pasi brings to the table. Along with the rest of the Yorktown community, Dierkes is emotional about the retirement of Pasi.

“The first thing I noticed when Dr. Pasi arrived was his smile. He was always so energetic and upbeat.  I noticed how Dr. Pasi has made the school environment a much more positive and vibrant, active place to be,” Dierkes said.

Throughout her time as a member of the Yorktown community Dierkes has seen it all, from the school renovation all the way to the retirement of Pasi. Even though she will not be a parent at Yorktown next year, her legacy will always be felt.


YHS Community Thoughts

“A job is a three letter word”, but for Paula Dierkes – MOM – is more than a job. It is her calling, her vocation. From her first days as room mother at Tuckahoe elementary, to her leading role as chairperson of the senior graduation party committee at Yorktown, my mom has poured her love, energy and talents into her work. There was never a project too big or too demanding for her to agree to take on. She never questioned whether she was doing the “right thing”, sacrificing her career as a social worker and trading it in for her new title as full-time mom and volunteer, because ultimately she was doing it for me and my four brothers. My mom was not paid for her work – as a room mom, chaperone, PTA president and every other volunteer hat she wore – in money, but in memories. And while we are not entrusted with her wealth in the material sense, we received something far more priceless, the memories shared together throughout her 30 years of service. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have a mom dedicate her life to me, my brothers, and our education. She has impacted the lives of so many people – my fellow classmates, teachers, parents and community members – throughout her 30 years of volunteerism, and I speak on behalf of all of us by simply saying ‘Thank you.'” -Tommy Dierkes, Class of 2004

“I have so much respect in her because she decided to quit her job and dedicate her life to her children to be home while my dad worked because what she did, although as time consuming (and more) as a full time job, didn’t earn any money. She decided to be a part of all five of her kid’s daily life at school being a part of literally every event because she wanted nothing more than to be around her kids. That is absolutely the truest possible sense of love that you can get. I appreciate everything she has done and we are very lucky to  have a mother that wanted to be so involved in our lives. For her to be able to know the names of all my classmates and my brothers classmates and still recognize them to this day (almost 20 years later) is a testament to how involved in my brothers and my life she really was. It all stems from love and I think that has made my brothers and family a tighter group because of seeing and realizing how much our mother cares and loves us.” -Patty Dierkes, Class of 2000

“I would say my mom is the smartest person I have ever met. She sacrificed her professional career to make sure we had the best childhood a kid could ask for and I’m very thankful for her undying love for us.” -Jimmy Dierkes, Class of 2004

“It is almost hard to fathom how involved my mom was in Arlington Public Schools through her 30 years of volunteering. She quit her job in order to be the most active member in every school I attended. Whether it was a teacher breakfast or a PTA meeting, you could count on her being at the front line with a smile. Yet, it was her sheer dedication to volunteering that showed just how much she loved her kids and the schools she worked in. Words cannot express how grateful I am for her and what she did.” -Steve Dierkes, Class of 2017

“She has always been a cheerleader for the students and teachers and is always supportive no matter what the situation is.” -English Teacher Rachel Sadauskas

“From the elementary school years that she worked with my husband on PTA events through today, Paula has always been willing to go the extra mile for all of us and always has a smile on her face!” -English Teacher Martha Axiotis

“Thank you for always giving me the right gift card!” -Math Teacher Harold Andersen
“I am amazed that there is always a Dierkes here. She has always been a great member of the PTA and she always looks out for the teachers and everyone’s well being. I am glad we get to leave together.” -Science Teacher Michael Zito