Photo: Harry Fisher/The Morning Call, Inc.
Copyright 2005; Used by permission
Liberty High School principal Bill Burkhardt '69 didn't expect
much fanfare when the end of the school year rolled around.
His students and colleagues thought differently.
Burkhardt was treated to a parade from his home to the school,
complete with a 250-member marching band salute and cheers from
students and teachers alike.
"It's really been a wonderful time and a wonderful experience,"
said Burkhardt, who retired after 35 years with the Bethlehem Area
School District. "I've met, worked with, and taught some very
fine people in my time here. It's sad to have to leave, but at the
same time it's the beginning of something new."
Burkhardt graduated from Liberty in 1965. He then attended Moravian
and landed a job as a teacher in the school district.
After working at several of the district's schools for 20 years,
he was named principal at Liberty.
"When I was a young teacher I always had an admiration for
those who were above me," he said. "I think that's what
motivated me to want to pursue an administrative position."
Burkhardt, 56, said the decision to retire was a tough one but
that it needed to be made.
"It's going to be easier to have one job instead of two,"
he said, referring to the ice cream shops he owns in Bethlehem (including
The Cup, near the high school). "I'll be able to focus on that
and also spend more time with my family and be able to relax a bit."
He said the extra time will allow him to help out his four children,
who are beginning their own adult lives.
"I had my time, and they are coming into theirs," he
said. "It's nice to be able to help them out as well."
Burkhardt will be relaxing in a town he loves deeply.
"I don't know if I ever really thought about leaving,"
he said. "I've just really been blessed to have had so many
Burkhardt attributes much of Bethlehem's appeal to the two schools
he graduated from. His daughter Amanda '01 attended Moravian as
"I think Moravian serves a much-needed purpose in this community,
just like Liberty does," he said. "Both schools have fine
reputations and serve centralized places in the community. I have
nothing but great things to say about both schools."
Liberty is a very important institution to the community, he said.
"Sometimes the decisions we make have an effect across the
board," he said. "We take that responsibility very seriously,
for the students and for the residents as well."
" The community he cares so much about didn't treat the principal's
Sen. Arlen Specter, President George W. Bush, Bethlehem City Council,
and even Martha Stewart sent commendations to Burkhardt.
"It was really, really flattering," he said. "It
means a lot to me that people care enough to do something like that