Whether he’s commanding a submarine or preparing for a new role with a U.S. Embassy, Captain Eric Severseike always remembers his roots.

“I cannot say enough good things about the great teachers and staff that nurtured — and put up with me — at Roland-Story,” Severseike said.

After graduating from Roland-Story in 1990, he went to the U.S. Naval Academy. His career in the Navy has included serving on four submarines. He says the highlight was commanding the USS San Francisco, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, from 2011 to 2014.

This year, as the Roland-Story Community School District celebrates its 50th anniversary, we’re hearing from alumni about what made their time in our schools so special. Capt. Severseike points to the teachers and coaches who mentored him during his time in the district.

“I’ve used a saying I heard from (former Roland-Story Football) Coach Kerry Van Winkle countless times in my Navy career: ‘If you want to scream with the eagles, you’ve got to scratch with the chickens,’” Severseike said. “His assertion that success and the ability to celebrate it comes only after a lot of hard work was spot on.”

Severseike mentioned several Roland-Story teachers and coaches who had a positive impact on his life and career.

“Coaches Jim Kinyon and Rod Bohner inspired me to stick with a challenge and to realize that my brain could be as effective as raw strength or athletic skill,” he said. “Denise Biechler and Virginia Meeks fueled my love of reading and developed editing skills that have been the bane of those who route paperwork to me. Al Wagner challenged generations of us to think, and Don Annis’ commitment to improving us with tough, challenging and meaningful music prompted me to join the men’s glee club at USNA, which was one of the main reasons I made it through those four years.”

The next step for Severseike will be in Oslo, Norway. Next May, he and his wife, Sofia, will move there as he becomes the Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy. This transition also means continuing education — right now, he’s studying the Norwegian language.

Severseike said the quality of education he received at Roland-Story prepared him well for the challenges he has faced. On top of that, he noted the values of community and hard work that were reinforced in the community. Those standards continue to be reflected today in the school district’s Core Values.

“The relatively small size of the school was a tremendous advantage,” Severseike said. “I was able to participate in sports, music and other extracurricular activities, all while receiving a truly great education. Lots of folks I’ve met through the years are amazed at how small Roland-Story was, but I’d put the depth, breadth and quality of my education up against anyone’s. That is entirely a result of the incredible staff and, importantly, the level of support Roland-Story received from the community in the form of taxes for new construction, volunteer work, attendance and interaction with the school and its students.”

As he readies himself for the next journey, Severseike has some advice for the Norsemen walking the halls today.

“Take advantage of the opportunities a small school of the highest quality has to offer you,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of the teachers and staff chose a profession in education because they wanted to develop children into successful, well-adjusted adults. Take advantage of their commitment. Also have fun, but be kind while you are doing it.”

Those are philosophies that have served Severseike well as he continues to serve our country. A big thank you goes out to Capt. Eric Severseike for his commitment and for helping us celebrate 50 years!