R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Only a select few El Pasoans who had the honor of having Mr. Phil Hatch as their principal will understand that reference.

It was a song played during the morning announcements at Montwood High School and it was a phrase that former principal, Mr. Hatch, would always instill in his student's minds.

Fast forward decades later and a few of those students who walked the halls of Montwood High School in the early 2000’s would have the honor of showing major RESPECT to their high school principal during an El Paso City Council Meeting.

Phil Hatch Day In El Paso:

A few weeks ago I got a call from Brenda Medina, former KTSM morning news anchor and proud Montwood High School Alum.

Brenda sought the assistance of her fellow MHS classmates, representatives Claudia Rodriguez and Claudia Ordaz, to make sure Mr. Hatch could get the recognition he deserved for his contribution to local youth in sports and education.

On June 11, 2024, Mr. Phil Hatch would be surprised with his very own day, “Phil Hatch Day."

“Mr. Hatch thought that Montwood High School was going to be recognized today so that’s why he came,” said Brenda in front of the City Council, “So this presentation was a surprise to him.”

Montwood High School Alum, former staff, and even Mr. Hatch’s former secretary stood at the podium to say kind words to Mr. Hatch and to congratulate him for this proclamation.

From UTEP to Montwood High School:

Mr. Hatch moved from his hometown of Mobile, Alabama to El Paso, Texas on an athletic scholarship for UTEP.

After college, he would make his way to the administration world with schools including Jefferson High School and Montwood High School.

In 1992 Mr. Hatch would volunteer his coaching skills to become one of the head coaches for the Greater El Paso Football Showcase, becoming the first head coach for the organization which has helped out so many youths in the sports community.

Memories of Mr. Hatch:

I am a proud Montwood High School grad, class of 2005! And I have nothing but fond memories of Mr. Hatch.

There were days when he would not only wear his Principal hat, but sometimes you’d see him outside directing traffic, assisting teachers, or greeting parents with a handshake.

He always had this way of making every single student feel seen. He knew the majority of every student’s names, and if he didn’t know your name you wouldn’t realize it because he had this way of making you feel like he’s known you your whole life.

However, I am sure that most MHS alumni can agree that one of the best memories of Mr. Hatch was the pre-recorded voicemail that was left on our parent’s phone’s whenever we missed school. (Not that I ever missed school……..)

Bumping Into Mr. Hatch Decades Later:

I remember one day I was shopping at Walmart with my son and I saw Mr. Hatch from a distance and for some reason, I wanted to make my way towards him just to say Hi. And I did. (I was THAT girl lol)

Mr. Hatch was the same kind and gentle person he was back when he was our high school principal, and his sense of humor was still on point!

A Recognition Decades in The Making:

It was so great to know that Mr. Hatch would finally be getting recognized for going above and beyond his job title of a high school principal.

Although I couldn’t make the meeting *Cries in Spanish* I was able to watch the proclamation live and I shed a few tears after hearing how much this surprise meant to Mr. Hatch, especially when he said these words:

“One of the things I felt was important when you work with young kids is to know their name and to make sure you let them know that they ARE somebody. We had 3300 students a year, which was a massive number. People would always ask me how I knew almost everyone’s names and I would always reply, "Only god knows.”

I am proud that I was able to call Mr. Hatch my high school principal and I am happy to celebrate Phil Hatch Day by playing Aretha Franklin’s “RESPECT” on repeat!

And before I wrap up this article, I wanted to end it with something that Mr. Hatch said to wrap up his speech as he accepted his Phil Hatch Day Proclamation:

“If we get that (respect) back into society, and be respectful, I think we will be just fine.”

Phil Hatch Day in El Paso, Texas

Gallery Credit: Delilah Kemmerling

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