Sirovy celebrated at Oakmont

Hundreds gather to remember former principal who died of cancer
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A common word emerges as colleagues and students describe longtime Roseville educator Kathleen Sirvoy: caring.

She is credited with creating a “culture of caring,” at Oakmont High School where she began her career in 1972 and later at Granite Bay High School, which she helped open as vice principal in 1996. Her peers said she genuinely cared about each and every student, teacher and administrator.

Sirovy died Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 61.

“It’s up to all of us to continue her legacy of caring and compassion,” said Ron Severson, assistant superintendent of personnel for Roseville Joint Union High School District, during a celebration of Sirovy’s life Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of supporters, wearing blue and white, gathered in the Oakmont High School quad to honor Sirovy, who returned to the campus as principal in 2002. It's where she spent the remainder of her 39 years with the district before retiring this spring.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her,” said 1992 Oakmont graduate Tami Lucas. “She really listened to all the kids. We were individuals to her … I’m lucky to have had her as a part of my life.”

Severson was principal of Granite Bay High School when the campus opened.

“Kathleen lived life with the pedal to the metal, racing from event to event, from problem to problem, diving in to make sure everyone’s needs were taken care of — usually with her cell phone to her ear and a thank you card or note of encouragement in her hand,” Severson told the Press Tribune. “She lived a robust life, full of passion that spilled over to anyone she was in contact with.”

During the celebration, Severson remarked on his 16-year friendship with Sirovy — and her penchant for long phone messages. Jokingly, he asked the audience to raise their hands if she had ever left a message on their voice mail that exceeded the recording time limit.

“I’ve been shaped for the better by my friendship with Kathleen. I’m a better listener,” Severson said, laughing. “We all are. We had no choice.”

He said she was a talkative woman, but the words were never empty because they came from her heart.

During Tuesday’s event, students sold blue bracelets that read, “Honoring a Tradition of Excellence — Mrs. Sirovy,” to raise money for the Kathleen Sirovy Scholarship fund. With the purchase, customers received a card to write a message to put in the school library.

“They are meant to show love and support for her family as well as maintaining the tradition of excellence she upheld in the district,” said student Tasia Dedenbach.

Junior Alyssa Sonzo said she interacted with Sirovy on a handful of occasions.

“I’ve never heard a bad thing about her,” Sonzo said. “She was super friendly.”

John Montgomery, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said Sirovy’s smile and compassion for students will be missed.

“(She) has been one of the most caring teachers, administrators and leaders for Oakmont High School and the entire district,” Montgomery said.

School board member Paige Stauss said the district lost of a member of its family with Sirovy’s passing.

“Mrs. Sirovy was a wonderfully caring woman who loved students and education, and will be severely missed by all of us in the district,” Stauss said.

Sirovy grew up in Elverta and graduated from Rio Linda High School. She earned her degree from Humboldt State University in 1972. In 1992, she was named national physical education teacher of the year. Her husband, George, retired as a special education teacher and athletic director at Granite Bay High School. They have two adult children, Joey and Margie.

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.


Remembrance bracelets
Each bracelet is blue and reads “Honoring a Tradition of Excellence — Mrs. Sirovy.” For each one purchased, the customer will receive a card to write a message to put in the Oakmont High School library.
Cost: $3. Proceeds go toward the Kathleen Sirovy Scholarship fund.
Info: To purchase a bracelet, e-mail Tasia Dedenbach at