August 18, 2011 at 8:31 a.m.
Students in grades 3-5 from Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City and parts of Scandia, Stacy and Wyoming, attend Lakeside.
Retzlaff grew up on a farm in Cyrus, Minn., near Morris, and he completed his bachelor's degree in education at the U of M - Morris where he also played one year each of baseball and basketball. He entered the National Guard, but blew out his left knee in infantry and received a medical discharge. "That (also) put an end to playing any ball," he said.
He was an assistant coach for boys' basketball and baseball in Goodhue, Minn., where he began his career in education and taught fifth grade from 1972-1982. He started the girls' basketball and softball programs in that district.
After Goodhue, Retzlaff was an elementary school principal in Stewart, Minn., (near Hutchinson) for one year and at the Unity School in Balsam Lake, Wis., the next year before coming to Lakeside in 1984. He and wife Diane - they married in 1976 - moved into the community with two young sons, Nicholas and Nathan, both of whom completed grades K-12 in Chisago Lakes schools.
"It was home," Retzlaff said of his family's sense of belonging when entering the district. Diane retired last spring after many years of teaching first grade at Wyoming Elementary School. Warren ended his principal duties, retiring at the end of the 2010-2011 year. The Retzlaffs plan to continue living in the area for their adult sons - "our kids always have Chisago Lakes as a home," Warren said - as well as for themselves.
Nicholas is currently at Fort Shelby, Miss., awaiting deployment with his National Guard unit to Kuwait and Iraq. Nathan works for a Minneapolis-based roofing company and is currently on a project for what will be the tallest building in Oklahoma City.
"I personally think it's the best school district in the state," Retzlaff said of Chisago Lakes. "If I had to do it all over (coming to Lakeside), I'd do it all the same without a second of hesitation.
"We've just loved being here. These 27 years have seemed more like seven years, they've gone by so fast."
He credits the district's teachers and all other staff, and supportive families in the community for making Chisago Lakes a district where all students have opportunities to prepare for whatever they may wish to pursue after graduation.
Retzlaff is succeeded as Lakeside principal by Sara Johnson, who has been an associate principal at Chisago Lakes High School. "She's very energetic and knowledgeable," Retzlaff said. "She'll do great. I think the kids will love her."
After recovery for what has been his 10th knee surgery (five for each knee), Retzlaff hopes to boost his volunteering in the area. He spoke of returning to his youth by riding tractors working for local farmers who might need the help.
"I might even be going up to Lakeside (to volunteer), we'll see," he said.
The Ki-Chi-Saga Days parade starts 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21.
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