Indiana Area Senior High School

By KAYLEE BECKER-GEORGE – As the year draws to a close, IHS is saying goodbye to four staff members. Philip Palko, Joe Socol, and Richard Wilhelmy are our retiring teachers. The High Arrow presented all three staff members with a Q&A as a send-off, and here are their responses.

Q: How long have you been at IHS?

Palko: 33 years

Socol: 25 years

Wilhelmy: 19 years

Q: Are there any other schools you’ve worked at?

Palko: None

Socol: Harmony Area School District, St Bernard’s Learning Center, Leechburg School District, and Marion Center School District.

Wilhelmy: IUP

Q: What subjects have you taught during your career?

Palko: Science Technology and Society, Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Environmental Science 

Socol: Driver Education and Physical Education

Wilhelmy: Chemistry (including college), Environmental Science, General Science

Q: What will you miss most about IHS?

Palko: The admin, staff and teachers I got to see everyday.  

Socol: The dedicated and hard working teachers and staff.  Everyone works so hard to do what has to be done!  They have my total respect.

Wilhelmy: I enjoy interacting with the students.

Q: What will you miss least?

Palko: Various things that caused stress. 

Socol: The paperwork! From the school district, from the PA Department of Ed. and from PennDot.

Wilhelmy: Getting up in the dark.

Q: What are some of your retirement plans?

Palko: Continue to coach tennis and fish a lot. Visit my kids who are in various places around the eastern US. 

Socol: I would like to take some time for myself. As a hobby, I would like to begin to repair and refinish older furniture and other antiques.

Wilhelmy: Long list – includes some travel (as Covid diminishes), catching up on a number of projects that have been postponed, hiking (with my border collie, Obi) & agility training, gardening

Q: If you could talk to yourself when you first started out, what advice would you give to yourself?

Palko: Get to know the people around me at IHS better. Spend more time doing the little things like crossword puzzles in the faculty lounge with then principal Dr. Cilo.  

Socol: That I picked the correct career choice. Although it will be very difficult to achieve and then complete, I am helping many, many students. Stay with it.

Wilhelmy: There will be good days and bad days; the good days outnumber the bad.

Q: What’s one thing you wish people knew about your job that they probably don’t?

Palko: Teachers are amazing people and care about kids more than anyone could know.  

Socol: How extremely difficult it is to teach a student how to drive both correctly and safely! It is extremely difficult!

Wilhelmy: There is a lot of behind-the-scenes effort put into teaching.

Q: What was your first job ever?

Palko: Painting Crew at Shadyside Academy in Fox Chapel 

Socol: When I was in high school, my first job was a Blue Spruce Park where I was a maintenance worker.  

Wilhelmy: As a teen – mowing lawns and lifeguard; as an adult – research chemist for ALCOA

Q: How many donuts could you eat in one sitting?

Palko: All of them. I did eat a dozen once way back when…..

Socol: Sorry, I don’t eat donuts.

Wilhelmy: Too many (especially if chocolate-covered vanilla cream filled)

Q: What is one food you could not live without?

Palko: My mom’s Lasagna

Socol: I just love Raisin Filled Cookies!

Wilhelmy: Fresh fruit (be it apples, bananas, berries, clementines, etc.)

Q: If you had to teach any other subject than the one you teach, what would it be and why?

Palko: Concert Band. I love music, particularly movie soundtracks. I was the field conductor for Marching Band in HS and still find myself conducting as I listen to music. I performed with the Westmoreland Symphonic Wind Ensemble for 30 years.  

Socol: On the high school level (not college or advanced), I always wanted to teach a Basic Anatomy class. 

Wilhelmy: Outside of science, it would probably be a math class or related course like computer programming. 

Q: Name one song that would play anytime you walked into a room for the rest of your life:

Palko: The Avengers Title Track

Socol: “Bad Moon Rising” (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and “Running on Empty” (Jackson Browne).

Wilhelmy: Tough one – I like a lot of different songs, mainly up-beat from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

The retiring teachers will be dearly missed by all, and we wish them the best of luck in their retirement. 


Kaylee Becker-George


Kaylee is a senior and a second-year reporter for the High Arrow. She enjoys playing video games and plays in the school marching band. She is excited to get back into writing articles for the school.