Mr. John Zettner: Renaissance Man

~by Carrie Sculati (parent of a DWS 5th & 8th grader and leader of CHAT parent organization)

On Monday morning, I was down in the Community Room making coffee and I kept hearing something that sounded like a cat meowing.  At first, I wondered if the Second Graders up above me were practicing their kittie-cat, but then I realized I was hearing a real live cat in distress.  I went to the windows, opened one and stuck my head outside. "MEOW!" came from up above.  I looked up and there the roof of Mr. Hantz's Garden House was a very frightened kitty.

Meanwhile the cat in peril had the full attention of the Second Grade class, on the first floor, and the Fifth Grade class on the second floor: "What can we do?  We have to save her!"  Yes we surely did, for no lessons could proceed with her cries for help right outside their windows.  And off I went to alert Mr. Zettner.   

Well Mr. Zettner was in the middle of his normal, busy morning.  I found him at his usual post manning "Mr. Zettner's Door" on Charlevoix.   We discussed some rescue plans.  Operation Kitty Rescue began with an attempt to extend a board across from the Second Grade window to the gutter of the Garden House.  The Second graders tried to lure the kitty across the plank, but to no avail. Time for Plan B, but first Mr. Zettner had something else he had to do.  You see he had already agreed to be in the skit which was planned for the Monday Morning Assembly.  As they say in the business, "The show must go on!"  Poor kitty had to hang on a few more minutes while Mr. Zettner fulfilled his previous obligation.

Finally, out he came to the poor helpless creature. Plan B involved leaning a ladder up against the utility pole which stands right next to the Garden House roof.  Up the ladder he climbed with kitty talking to him all the way.  At the top of the ladder he stepped over the chain link fence and onto the rungs of the utility pole.  Now he climbed the utility pole until he was level with the gutter of the Garden House.  He reached over and gently took hold of the still crying kitty, placed her over his shoulder and started back down the utility pole, over the fence and down the ladder. 

And now to find her house.  Her tag said Iroquois, and off he went around the block to deliver her.  As he went, DWS parent Chris Ann Roncone spied him.  She recognized the kitty as belonging to a fellow DWS family, the Mahoneys.  On he went down the street affirmed that he was headed in the right direction.  Finally, almost to Vernor, he arrived at the Mahoney home where mom, Andi, Keely, Grade 2, and little brother Ben, still in their jammies, ran out to meet him.  Their beloved kitty, Gia Starsparkle Mahoney, had been missing since Saturday night.  She had spent two night out in the cold, and a sadness had descended upon the Mahoney household.  Somehow she had made her way to Keely's classmates and was now back home safe and sound.  Mr. Zettner saves the day again!

All in a days' work for our Mr. Zettner:  Fixer of all things broken, Assembler of new furniture, Cleaner of "accidents", Raker of leaves, Mower of grass, Doorman, Actor, Cat-Rescuer.  What would we do without him!?  Thank you, Mr. Zettner for all the ways you have taken care of us and the building for the last 20 years.  We must add one more role to your job description though: Teacher.  You teach all of us everyday and we are grateful for your lessons.

Charis Calender-Suemnick