Chris Sonnenstuhl, a special education teacher at Olympia High School, who also served as the school’s announcer for football and basketball games, has died, the school announced Tuesday.
Olympia High principal Matt Grant wrote a message to the high school’s community on his Facebook page just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. He was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Olympian on Wednesday.
The full text of Grant’s message is below:
Dear Olympia High School Families and Community,
We have some sad news to share with you about one of our staff members. This morning we learned about the passing of special education teacher Chris Sonnenstuhl. We are deeply saddened by this news, and it may be difficult for many of you and your students as well since he was well-known around our campus. In addition to teaching special education, he was also our school announcer at football and basketball games. He brought great joy to his colleagues, students and families.
The news of his passing will be shared with students by their teachers during first-period classes (Wednesday); however, we wanted to send you this message today if you prefer to talk in advance as a family.
A team of social workers and counselors will be available in the school library tomorrow to talk with students as needed.
Families can help by being a good listener. Grieving does take time, and each of us expresses our grief differently. Signs of grief may include shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety, changes in eating and sleeping habits, nightmares, poor concentration, repeatedly talking about the loss, emotional and social withdrawal, acting younger than usual, and restlessness. It often takes some time for people to process the feelings associated with this kind of loss. Be patient and leave the door open by letting your child know you are available to listen at any time.
Our hearts go out to the Sonnenstuhl family and the entire Olympia High School community. As of (Tuesday) afternoon, we are not aware of plans regarding memorial services for Mr. Sonnenstuhl, but when that information becomes available we will share it with you.
Again, please know that our staff are here to support students. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance at (360) 596-7000.
Olympia football coach Steve Davis said Wednesday the program has ordered stickers that show Sonnenstuhl’s initials with a microphone, which the team will place on their helmets.
“The whole program is very saddened, and he will be deeply missed,” Davis said. “He was a great announcer, not only for football, but basketball. He really got the fans engaged.”
Longtime Olympia boys basketball coach John Kiley remembered back to when Sonnenstuhl called the Bears’ first playoff win, and said his colleague was excited for both football and basketball season this school year.
“I loved his passion,” Kiley said. “As a Bear, he exemplified the blue and the blood. He absolutely loved Olympia sports. ... The loss is sudden, and a shock, and a big hit on the Olympia sports community.
“He was always such a positive guy. He would walk into the gym and was so excited for whoever we were playing, and whatever that contest meant, and he was hoping for big things. I am personally sad and sad for our school.”