Interview with Mr. DeMaio (Part 1)


Digital Camera

Marifel Miguel, Staff Writer

In the past year and a half we’ve had many changes here at Hawthorne High School, one of them being our new principal Mr. Tom DeMaio. He was here during the weirdest school year we’ve ever had and because of the chaos of last year, it seems that most of us didn’t get to know him very well. I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. DeMaio and asking him questions about the last year of our lives, new events and clubs and overall getting to know him better. Here’s what Mr.DeMaio had to say. 


The Clarion: Mr.DeMaio you became principal of HHS during  the strangest and most chaotic school year we have ever had, how do you feel about this? Do you wish it could have been a normal school year or did seeing the way HHS came together and handled such a weird situation change your perspective?

Mr. DeMaio: Well, I mean, I wish it was a normal school year because I think there are so many aspects of high school that are beyond the classroom that make up the high school experience. So not having a lot of those experiences was sad for most of the students because I think it plays into the healthy well being of kids growing up, being able to socialize and getting involved in activities that they enjoy: that’s all a part of the high school experience that helps create friendships. It also helps to create a sense of responsibility and things like that that you don’t get when we had that scenario. So now with that said, I was pretty happy for the most part how the kids responded to the situation that we had and the continual changes that we had…but it just doesn’t replace the feeling of being in a building with your friends and all that kind of stuff. 


The Clarion: In the past year and a half we’ve had to adjust to many changes, from shutting down, changing schedules and even recently our first day of school got moved due to the floods. Were these changes difficult? Was it hard remaining optimistic during these frantic changes?

Mr. DeMaio: It wasn’t hard to remain optimistic. I’m kind of an optimistic person to begin with so I always look at these different types of challenges as it’s a part of life and you know there’s things that are beyond our control. And to me there’s no sense in kicking up my heels and getting all upset over something that is just completely out of my control: instead, here’s the situation now how do I deal with it…knowing that none of this is ever permanent and that when I get up in the morning everyday the sun still comes out and everyday is a brand new day to start something up again…so you have to just kind of go with it and say okay now how do we best hopefully come up with a plan to best handle that situation and we move forward. 


The Clarion: You brought T.E.E.E.M Lakota from your old school. Is this correct? What does T.E.E.E.M Lakota mean to you? Why do you think the students at HHS will be able handle such an important cause?

Mr. DeMaio: Correct! I’m very passionate about it. I’ve been involved in the T.E.E.E.M organization for 6 years now and I believe in it. I believe it’s a great opportunity for high school students to first understand humanitarianism rights. I think we all have we all share our responsibility to help those that are less fortunate than we are. We have our own different challenges and some have been dealt a better set of cards than others. But one thing that we all have in common is that we give of ourselves. Whether it’s time, whether its compassion, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to get money out of my pocket  and so in dealing with T.E.E.E.M it helps us learn about those who are less fortunate throughout the world and T.E.E.E.M has a lot of locations. I’m very dear to T.E.E.E.M Lakota because  it’s helping our own in the country and the Native Americans…so when you begin to learn about them to learn about the struggles that they have and some of the adversities they’ve been given, I think it’s one of our responsibilities to help. I think for the high school students here at Hawthorne, exposure to humanitarianism and exposure to working with students in the area beyond Hawthorne and to be able to have conversations with kids from other schools and to learn how to work cooperatively and collaboratively with kids around the area…maybe around the state…and hopefully throughout the nation …it’s a very unique experience that you can have. 


The Clarion: Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do in your free time? Favorite sport? Favorite food? 

Mr. DeMaio: I’m happily married for over 30 years and I have 3 beautiful daughters so you know I love spending time with my wife and my kids. In a previous life I was a college football coach…football has always been an important part of me. It is a passion of mine…all sports are but you know my real passion is football. I love to eat so I love tasting and trying all sorts of foods. I grew up where my mother  would put something on a plate and then I’d say what is this and she would turn around and say eat it first and then tell me if you like it and then we’ll talk about what it is. So it was as if I grew up  just learning how to try things and then making a decision…so there’s not too many foods I don’t like.  I enjoy the experiences of cooking, the experiences of going out to eat trying new foods, and I love my friends. I’ve been in education for a long time and then a principal for over 20 years so it’s great being around kids…young kids that keep you young. I love conversations. I love talking to them and hearing their perspectives on things. That’s pretty much how I am.


Part 2 coming soon…