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The GIS Pretzel

The story of the giant pretzel, as seen at our Murray Boulevard campus

by Hunter Gregg, GIS Facilities Director

I’ve always wanted to display something big on the school’s roof during the holidays, something with blinking lights that screams, "Look at me!"

So I started posing this question to teachers and staff: "If you could put a giant symbol on top of the school’s roof, what would it be?" I believe it was former 5th grade teacher Frau Ocko who responded the quickest, and she’s the one who suggested a pretzel. 

I’m not saying it’s her fault, I’m just saying she’s the one who got me thinking about it! So for the next five years, right around December, I’d always be thinking about this pretzel. The problem was, I didn’t think I could build it. I’m okay at building stuff, but a pretzel? No way. 

So I searched around and tested the waters, to see if I could find a parent or a teacher, some member of the community willing to embark on such an endeavor. Unsurprisingly, I got no takers. Much of life to me is about acquiring believers, but unfortunately, when it came to The Pretzel, I was alone on an island.

Enter Craig Lewis.

Craig came to GIS in 2021. He was originally hired to help with our IT needs and act as a floating substitute teacher. If you haven’t met him, you should. In Fall 2023, when I was in need of getting some help with facilities, I thought of a conversation I had with Craig the previous year. He told me about how he used to build haunted houses in Las Vegas. It all sounded very professional and very impressive, and the whole time he was talking, I was thinking, "I just found our pretzel-maker!"

Our subsequent conversation on the school roof went something like this:

Me: Don’t you think we should put a big pretzel up here for the holidays?

Craig: A pretzel?

Me: Yeah, like a big giant pretzel with blinking lights so everybody can see it from the road. Don’t you think that’d be great?

Craig: I’d have to think about it.

Me: What’s to think about? You can build a pretzel, I know you can!

Craig: But, I’ve never built a pretzel.

A couple of days later we went to Home Depot to brainstorm. Craig had some ideas on how to build it, but he was still a bit skeptical.

"I don’t know, Hunter. If this doesn’t work, this could be really embarrassing. I mean, does it have to be a pretzel?"

"Will you stop questioning yourself? I believe in you, Craig," I told him.

For the next six weeks, Craig would sneak away to the Brigadoon campus, where he would saw, sculpt, and brood over The Pretzel. It was clear he was on a mission.

Around Week Four of Project Pretzel, I sensed a change in Craig’s demeanor.

He said, "This pretzel is going to be amazing! Nobody is gonna badmouth this pretzel."

It was at that moment that I realized I was in the presence of a master craftsman, someone who methodically executed the construction of the perfect pretzel.

So, as you look upon and appreciate The Pretzel in all of its 10 feet of twisted glory, you might ask, "Why isn't it on the roof?"

 The answer is simple: We couldn’t get it through the door.

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