From Launchpad to Principal: Mr. Mendoza talks about leading the Rockets


Photo By: The Fuel

Being the Judson High School principal is a big role to take on and not everyone can do it. Running a high school for a whole school year is a lot of responsibility and requires a lot of patience. Richard Mendoza, the new Judson High School principal, is ready to take on this school year.

It never crossed Mendoza’s mind about becoming a principal but he is glad he took this opportunity to become Judson High School principal and wouldn’t change it for anything. 

“I would be lying to you if I told you I always wanted to be a principal. I have been a football coach for 20 years and when I opened Veterans Memorial high school, it was a smaller school and I had to serve as the head coach, athletic coordinator, and assistant principal, so I was doing a lot. One of my bosses at the time told me to go get my master’s degree and it was one of those things where it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. When I got my degree, the opportunity came about to be the principal of Judson and it’s not very often that an alum gets to be the principal of their high school. It is pretty cool to be the first alumni to become the principal of Judson High School and that is something nobody can take away from me. I’m glad that it’s here and I get the chance to do it and get the chance to get to know kids and hopefully pass on that Rocket Pride to them,” said Mendoza. 

Mendoza is a former Rocket himself and always carried Rocket Pride in him ever since. So from going from being a Rocket to the new principal of Judson High School, there must be all these mixed feelings.

“It’s like a roller coaster ride. Some days it’s up and then it’s down and then sideways. Sometimes you get through it all and at the end of the day it’s like, ‘Man, we just ran a high school for a day,’ but it’s a ride because there are a lot of great kids here and it’s important that we try to sell that because it’s my job. Being a Rocket myself it’s important that I talk the right way about our kids, our community, and our high school,” said Mendoza.

As the school year starts, some things may change for students and staff but one thing that Mendoza will never change is the Rocket Pride that we have in this community.

 “I plan to get kids back in the classroom and doing what they’re supposed to do. I also want to reintroduce a lot of things that maybe our community either has forgotten or never has been taught like we believe in Rocket Pride. You know some people ask what Rocket Pride is or what it means and I have quoted this a lot ‘If you are not a part of it, you don’t understand it and if you are, you can’t explain it–it’s just a feeling as a Rocket,” said Mendoza. 

The expectations being set throughout the school can be very time-consuming and Mendoza is well aware of all the struggles that the students go through, but it doesn’t go unnoticed. 

“I expect everyone to get up early and come to work and do our best. You know one thing that was inbred in me as a Rocket was “do your best, don’t sweat the rest, let everything else take care of itself. You guys have so many stresses and challenges in life, just like teachers and other staff members and all we can do is do our best. Everyone has these lofty goals but sometimes you are going to fail but it’s all about learning from it and climbing up that ladder again,” said Mendoza.

Judson High School is special and unique in many ways. The community is one big family where everyone can always come together and have fun the Rocket way. 

“We are the one and only. There are no other Judson Rockets in the world. There is only one Diamond J and that brand matters. If I show that Diamond J to someone in Italy, they might know who it is and that is how significant that brand is and I think that is what sets us apart because there is nobody like us,” said Mendoza.

Judson High School offers so many different pathways for all students. No matter what pathways the students go down, with all the accomplishments that the students make and continue making, it is what makes us unique and also shows what Rocket pride is all about and Mendoza agrees.

“Understanding the value behind the Diamond J, sometimes we confuse Judson High School with being a sports school and it’s easy to do. We have a good athletic program but we also have a phenomenal Ag program, Theater Arts, and Mariachi’s that are awesome. To keep those traditions alive, to keep talking about it, teaching it and growing it, that’s my plan,” Mendoza said.

 No matter what kind of day you’re having or stress, we should treat everyone equally, especially teachers and staff members. One big thing about respect and dignity is that it can go the extra mile because it shows maturity in young adults and Mendoza wants to see more of that from the students.

“I just want to see respect. You know respect is a two-way street. I heard it best when I think kids, even human beings get dignity and respect twisted. What I mean by that is every human being on this planet, even the ones you may not like that much deserves dignity but respect is earned. The biggest challenges when I got here were when I needed to get kids out of the hallway and I’d be like let’s get to class and the kids would give me a look and  I get it because I hadn’t earned their respect yet. One thing about our kids in the community is that our kids are the most loyal people I have ever been around but they’re not going to give it to you for free. So I would like to see our kids understand and work together to earn respect with each other,” Mendoza said. 

This is to show that people like Mr. Mendoza are here to give back to the community where he was raised and appreciate what they once gave him because as the saying goes, “Once a Rocket, Always a Rocket.”