Major Vincent Rukstalis says he has some “serious” research to do now that he has retired as Aerospace Sciences Department Chair at .
“I want to build an airplane,” the 20-year head of the BHS Air Force ROTC unit said, as he contemplated moving into the next phase of his life. “It’s been a while since I’ve flown. But I’ve always wanted to get back into it."
Building and flying that airplane (either an experimental aircraft or a “Light Support Aircraft”) will have to take a temporary back seat so the former Air Force navigator can tend to a few family matters like visiting his three grandchildren in Colorado and heading to Nebraska later this summer where his son and daughter-in-law are expecting a fourth grandchild.
“Family is the driving force in my life right now. I’m not moving anywhere,” the Braidwood resident said. “Plus I have a lot of honey-do things that have been piling up for years. I gotta take care of them.”
When “The Maj” came to BHS 20 years ago, the ROTC program included 120 students. This year’s number hit 236 and next year the school is forecasting 335 ROTC students.
“That’s a lot of growth,” he said modestly, recalling some “really good times” like winning the Southwest Suburban Conference Drill Team title three of the last four years and going to Nationals one year. “I’m going to miss the people here…the kids, the other teachers, the secretaries, the maintenance staff, the janitorial staff, all of them.”
Major Rukstalis is thankful for the “fantastic support” he has had from all the Principals he’s worked with (“…and I’ve known a few.”)
As for advice for his successor, he puts it very simply: “Ask. People won’t want to just tell you something because they’re afraid to step on your toes. Talk to people. Ask their advice. Talk to teachers. Find out how they do it in math or science or whatever."
And, he says, “Don’t make changes for change sake.”