Jack Verhil keeps the school in good hands through his optimism


Jack Verhil

the new security guard Jack Verhil posing with his motorcycle

The new security guard, Jack Verhil, is sick and tired of the “devious lick” challenge.

As the new trend of vandalizing the school bathrooms has emerged, Verhil’s tolerance lessens with every removal of a hand dryer, disappearance of a soap dispenser, and destruction of a sink. 

However, when first experiencing a “devious lick,” he was clueless to the fact that this troublesome challenge is one big prank.  

I was a little late to the trend,” Verhil said. “My first time [experiencing a ‘devious lick’ was when] I walked in the bathroom and opened a stall door and saw either red food coloring or a red energy drink all around the toilet and walls—I immediately thought somebody got beat up. When I saw that, I was like ‘Oh! Someone just got beat up in here; ah geez, whoever it is, I hope they’re okay.’ Then, when I found out it was fake, I was like, ‘Really?’”

Verhil was not familiar with this erratic behavior, as he worked at a middle school prior to finding a job here. Slowly but surely, Verhil is adjusting to the high school environment, whether it’s knowing how to deal with these devious actions or simply with a student not having a parking pass on their front windshield.

Transitioning from Grandville Middle School to Forest Hills Central High was indeed a process, but Verhil appreciates the unexplored environment, as there are tons of new aspects—and perks—that he is learning how to handle as a security officer. 

“There are some new things at the high school that I’m not used to,” Verhil said, “one [being that] the students can drive now, so that’s a new thing to me with [there] being two parking lots. I enjoy the opportunity [of] being outside versus all the students being inside, so I can travel freely inside and outside more often than I did when I was at Grandville, [where] all the students [were] just inside because they’re so much younger.”

As a Forest Hills alumnus from Forest Hills Eastern, Verhil is familiar with the district and its layout. Because of his high school experience in this district, Verhil is all the more enthusiastic to be working back where it all started for him. 

But above all and most importantly, FHC has welcomed Verhil graciously since his arrival.

“As a newcomer to the district, I appreciate that everyone’s been very welcoming and [has had] open arms,” Verhil said. “When I got hired on, I believe most [of the] faculty was familiar that I’m an alumnus from Forest Hills, so maybe [they were] a little biased there, but I am very appreciative of the number of students that come up and talk to me and [for] the staff that are very welcoming.”

Although the change in setting is significant for Verhil, he appreciates that he has not once been treated as an outsider.

“I love the warm environment,” Verhil said, “and I don’t feel like an outsider here. As a new person here, I feel very welcomed into the building and the district.”

After graduating from Grand Rapids Community College, Verhil was initially destined to pursue policing. He was employed at the Lowell Police Department from 2018 to 2020 and loved every minute of it. COVID-19, unfortunately, affected him and that job, but in a way, that introduced Verhil to the occupation of a school security guard. 

I’ll share a lot of stories; I’m very sarcastic—I don’t try to insult anybody, but I try to make jokes a lot. That way, everyone’s smiling and laughing. Laughter is the best medicine.”

— Jack Verhil

“After COVID-19 hit the small town of Lowell, [they] had budget cuts,” Verhil said, “and as a part-timer, I was one of them that got cut from my position. But due to my good networking and talking skills, I went to Ohio.”

In his ventures to Ohio, Verhil joined the Ohio Police Academy, gaining his Private Investigators License, and he worked contract jobs over the summer until his move back to Michigan in 2020, when he heard word of Grandville’s hiring. 

Fast-forwarding to the future, Verhil has ended up in the Ranger halls, working day in and day out to ensure the safest, most friendly school environment possible.

In addition to easing into this change, Verhil has also challenged himself to get to know the students and faculty one by one.

“I try to learn one new name a day,” Verhil said, “That way, I can get familiar with the students, and I’m not just a stranger. When I was at Grandville, my motivation was to ensure that when you come to school, you have the best day ever, so I’m trying to bring that here as I get to know more students and staff. I [want to] relay good vibes and make it a friendly and happy environment when you come to school.”

Within spreading that joy through the halls, Verhil makes sure to always have a smile on his face and to interact with anyone and everyone he surpasses. 

I like to talk a lot; I’m a talker,” Verhil said. “I’ll share a lot of stories; I’m very sarcastic—I don’t try to insult anybody, but I try to make jokes a lot. That way, everyone’s smiling and laughing. Laughter is the best medicine. I’m very approachable to talk to. I hope I don’t stand off as scary [or that] nobody would want to talk to me; I try to come off as warm and inviting.”

Bringing his bubbly personality outside of the school walls, Verhil enjoys a multitude of activities to keep him active and busy.

“I’m a biker; I ride a Harley Davidson,” Verhil said. “If I’m not riding, I’m golfing. And now that it’s September and getting colder, I’m really looking forward to the snowboarding season because during the wintertime, if I’m not working, I’m on the slopes shredding.”  

Yet when the school year rolls around and the summer fun is over, Verhil snaps back into focus and steps his best foot forward as a protector. 

Although his job is important and time-consuming, Verhil always makes sure to look out for others, and that is what he considers to be his purpose here.

“I know my job title is to stop bad behavior and to deal with discipline,” Verhil said, “but at the end of the day, if someone needs help—whether it’s a teacher or food worker or custodian—I am willing to help. I am willing to help any student, any staff member, to the best of my ability.”  

Verhil likes to live knowing that “tomorrow is a new day,” and that you cannot change the past without changing the future.

This outlook on his job is the exact definition of Ranger Pride. To be a Ranger is to be selfless and to continually help others in need, and Verhil relays that perfectly. 

“Ranger Pride can mean anything to anybody,” Verhil said. “School is not about me; I’m very selfless. It’s about the students. I’m hoping I could use Ranger Pride as an example for students that are in high school now to not give up. These are the last four years of school, and it’s motivation to continue to stay strong in school and achieve goals and dreams.”

This mindset as a new addition to Ranger Country is an impeccable one, and Verhil treats the halls of FHC as his sacred ground and treats Ranger Pride as something to boast about. 

“Ranger Pride—don’t give up; don’t give up on yourself,” Verhil said. “You’re a Ranger; whatever is beating you down, don’t let it affect you. If you had a bad day yesterday, [the] next day is going to be a better one. If you’re having a bad year, make it a better year. Only you can achieve that on your own. If you’re telling yourself you can’t do it, you’re not going to do it. If you’re telling yourself you can do it, you’re going to put your best foot forward to whatever you want to achieve.”