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Former Oakmont principal loses battle to brain cancer

Kathleen Sirovy leaves lasting impact on high school district
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Former Oakmont High School Principal Kathleen Sirovy passed away Friday losing her battle with brain cancer.

“Mrs. Sirovy’s bright smile, passion for students and positive attitude about every situation is what I will miss most about her,” said current Oakmont Principal Rob Hasty, in an announcement to students and staff. “She truly cared for every person that she came in contact with. She is a shining example of how we should live our lives.”

Doctors diagnosed Sirovy with an inoperable form of brain cancer in April and she retired soon after. She began her career at Oakmont in 1972, teaching physical education, health and speech classes. She also served as P.E. department coordinator and coached gymnastics, swimming, softball and dance.

Sirovy was an assistant principal for two years and then transferred to Granite Bay High School in 1996 to help open that campus with Ron Severson, who is now assistant superintendent of personnel for the Roseville Joint Union High School District.

“Kathleen had an indomitable spirit that caused her to believe she could intervene and save every student she encountered,” Severson said. “It wasn’t much different with the adults in her life. She cared so deeply that people would open up and share with her things they were reluctant to share anywhere else. She poured her life into everyone around her.”

Sirovy worked at Granite Bay High School for five and a half years before returning to Oakmont as principal in 2002.

Current school board President Garry Genzlinger had known Sirovy since she joined the district.

“Kathleen just made the atmosphere of Oakmont a warm, caring environment for kids to be in,” he said. “It’s just who she was. She cared about the kids, the teachers, everybody.”

District school board member Jan Pinney said Sirovy interacted with several of his kids at both Oakmont and Granite Bay high schools.

“My first specific recollection of her occurred about 23 years ago when she took one of my daughters to a speech and debate competition in Santa Rosa to compete in the finals for an event,” Pinney said. “My daughter was the only student who had qualified from the district, yet Mrs. Sirovy gave up a good part of her weekend so my daughter could represent Oakmont in the competition. I remember thinking at the time what a remarkable and committed educator she was.”

In May, Oakmont students and staff created a wall mural made of ceramic tiles to show their gratitude to Sirovy. Remembrances of the former principal can be found on two Facebook pages, “Smiles for Sirovy” and “Remembering Kathleen Sirovy.”

“She was one of the reasons I swam for three years,” posted Oakmont grad Tom Owen. “She always (knew) how to encourage me to swim faster. I loved swimming for her. Mrs. Sirovy, you were the absolute best and I have not and will not ever forget you. I look forward to swimming again for you in heaven one day.”

Former Press Tribune education reporter Nathan Donato-Weinstein spoke with Sirovy on a weekly basis about school news — both good and bad. He said Sirovy was an honest, open administrator who understood the importance of informing the community about school issues, even if that sometimes meant negative press.

“She was amazing,” Donato-Weinstein said. “She lived and breathed Oakmont High School. She wanted students to take pride in their school community.”

He said he remembers how quickly she spoke — so fast he often couldn’t take complete notes.

“That’s one thing that sticks with me,” he said. “She had so much to say. She had a lot going on.”

Her husband, George, worked as a special education teacher and athletic director at Granite Bay High School. They have two adult children.

Oakmont High School is planning a celebration in honor of Sirovy, which will be held on campus next week. Staff will announce details soon. Check back at www.rosevillept.com for updates.

Sena Christian can be reached at sena@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at Senac_RsvPT.

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Celebration in honor of Kathleen Sirovy

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30

Where: Quad at Oakmont High School, 1710 Cirby Way in Roseville

Donations: Instead of flowers, family is asking for contributions to Kathleen Sirovy Scholarship fund. Checks payable to RJUHSD, indicate "Kathleen Sirovy Scholarship" in memo line. Send checks to Oakmont High School.

Info: Wear blue and white. Dessert reception in cafeteria following reception. Please bring dessert to share and drop off in cafeteria prior to event. For more information, call (916) 782-3781.