The two-week period between prom and graduation is perhaps Steve McWilliams’ (BHS '93) favorite time of the school year.
“Beyond celebrating the accomplishments of the senior class, the excitement and anticipation for the future flows from each of our graduating seniors,” McWilliams said.
It’s an excitement he himself felt 30 years ago, as he walked across the stage at the old Poplar Creek Music Theater, to receive his diploma from Barrington High School. McWilliams was active as a student at BHS, participating in football and track. He was also one of the editors of the yearbook. When he graduated, he knew he wanted to one day work as a high school teacher and coach. After four years at Drake University, he went on to teach biology at Streamwood High School for one year.
Then in 1998, five years after he graduated from BHS, McWilliams had the opportunity to return home. “It was an easy decision,” McWilliams said. “There were teaching positions that I was qualified for and I had the opportunity to work directly with the teachers I admired as a student.”
For the next 10 years, he held several positions at BHS including science teacher, dean, district safety and security coordinator, and associate principal. In July 2008 he was named principal, a title he never imagined when he was walking the halls as a student, or even as a new teacher. “Frankly, when I first started teaching here, my only aspiration was to be the best possible teacher and coach for the students at Barrington High School,” McWilliams said.
Now in his 16th year as principal, McWilliams is a well-known face among Barrington 220 staff members and the nearly 3,000 students at BHS. From being a staple in the stands at BHS athletic events to making various cameos in the annual spring musical, you could say McWilliams is experiencing Barrington High School all over again, but from a brand new lens. “I was not involved in performing arts while in high school, so the musical cameos have been an opportunity to see the dedication and hard work it takes to develop a show as big as the musical,” McWilliams said.
Though his musical cameos are nothing short of Tony Award-winning, McWilliams says his biggest source of pride is the world-class education BHS provides for its students.
“Barrington High School has long been considered an excellent high school. With an artful blend of rich traditions and cutting-edge innovation, BHS is a source of pride in our community."
This spring when members of the BHS Class of 2024 receive their diplomas at Willow Creek, McWilliams will stand on stage to shake hands with all of them. And while he knows it’s hard not to feel that excitement and anticipation for the future, he says if he could offer one piece of advice to his 1993 self, it would be this: “The process is just as important as the destination. Enjoy the process.”