The Communicator

Put the KiBoshoven On

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John Boshoven sits in his office at Communty High. Boshoven’s colleague and fellow counselor Brian Williams looks forward to having the “office with the window” when Boshoven is gone.

John Boshoven sits in his office at Communty High. Boshoven’s colleague and fellow counselor Brian Williams looks forward to having the “office with the window” when Boshoven is gone.

John Boshoven sits in his office at Communty High. Boshoven’s colleague and fellow counselor Brian Williams looks forward to having the “office with the window” when Boshoven is gone.

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His office teems with university posters, flags, and notepads. “The Fiske Guide to Colleges” on his bookshelf, a print of the Italian painter Masaccio on his wall, a basset hound stuffed animal in the corner.

“This office is a metaphor,” John Boshoven said. “Because look at all these opportunities.”

When Boshoven came to Community High School, he had a wealth of experience in counseling and development; however, he didn’t really understand the college admissions process.

So, he traveled to high schools all over Michigan to see how their counselors approached things like recommendation letters and junior meetings. He also pulled from his own personal experience in high school for guidance on how he should counsel. Or rather, how he should not counsel.

“My high school counselor told me not to apply to Stanford, because I wouldn’t get in,” Boshoven said. “I was freaked out, and so I never tried. One 15-minute meeting my senior year was the extent of my relationship with my high school counselor. I basically said, ‘I better do a better job than this.’”

Boshoven’s finesse with college admissions is recognized by those who he has helped: Senior Sean Parmer credited Boshoven with getting him into his number one college; Emily Tschirhart said Boshoven helped her find schools that would balance her seemingly opposite interests of engineering and music.

“He’s got that huge wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Lizzie Peterson, who has interned beside John for the past year. “It would take years for people to be able to do what he does and do it so well.”

But it’s this expansive expertise that makes some current juniors panic. Or rather, it’s about the impending absence of this expertise that juniors like Francisco Fiori, Josh Martins-Caulfield, Isabel Espinosa (and myself) worry. Who’s going to write their letters of rec?

Brian Williams, counselor at Community, will also miss working next to John. For the past four years, he has been able “pick [Boshoven’s] brain,” and “leech off” his vast experience, but Boshoven’s wisdom is a resource he will soon lack. Williams isn’t worried about having to continue without Boshoven, but he knows it will be an adjustment.

“If I have a question related to this school and this profession… it’s going to be me!” Williams said. “I’ll have to figure it out.”

Boshoven came to Community in 1998, exactly twenty years ago.

Now, he is retiring.

Boshoven is the primary counselor for 325 students; what will happen to them when he’s gone? Boshoven hopes that whoever is hired to replace him will understand “the value of college counseling for this school.” He recommends that rising seniors build a relationship with the new counselor quickly, and hold onto their notes from the junior conference.

But let’s not pretend that Boshoven’s college advising is all that will be lost from his retirement.

“He walks in the office whistling, he leaves the office whistling,” said Kelly Maveal, counseling intern. “He’s a constant source of joy.”

“He’s got a unique sense of humor that… you know that’s John,” Williams said. “I hear a joke, [and] I’m like: oh, that’s a John joke.”

By interning with Boshoven, Maveal and Peterson have learned to put students first, because that’s what he always does. Boshoven will drop anything he’s in the middle off to give attention to a student. His “wonderful moral compass” leads him to always fight for the best interest of the student, said Maveal, even if it means he has to battle the administration, higher-ups in the district, or colleges.

Boshoven loves Community because of what sets it apart. Every student at Community is here because they applied and chose to come. To Boshoven, that adds a special aspect to the school’s environment. Boshoven finds the students and teachers visibly love being here and working together.

He also loves the spontaneity of the job. As he put it, every person who walks into his office is different: one person could be having a crisis, another might just need advice. Students could even, say, just walk on in and interview him about his retirement. Each day is never the same, except that each day Boshoven loves working here.

“There’s not hardly been a day where I’m not like, ‘this is a great place to be,” Boshoven said.

He worries, of course: about the person who will be taking his place, about the students whom he is leaving behind. But he also intends to take advantage of the rest and relaxation retirement will bring. He is excited about the prospect of exploring Europe and traveling to warm Florida beaches during winter. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his family — especially his three grandchildren, all of whom live out of state — and waking up without an alarm clock.

“I’m sort of taking a gap year, to figure things out,” Boshoven said. “I’m so old! It’ll be nice to slow down a little bit.”

Boshoven’s retirement will be a loss of kindness, dependability, and decades of experience for Community. But, like the many office knick-knacks he is packing away, he is taking pieces of everyone with him, and leaving pieces of himself behind.

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