The first job Arthur “Buz” Sievers held with the Monticello school district in 1966 was not a very glamorous one.
“I spent the entire summer painting chain link fences,” he recalls.
Fast forward 53 years and he is now the repository of knowledge for the school district, having worked with every superintendent of the consolidated era that began in 1948.
In his honor, the newest gym in the district will be named after him. Construction on the Arthur “Buz” Sievers Center is expected to be complete by the start of the 2020-21 school year. It will seat about 1,500 people, more than doubling the capacity of Miller Gym, the current home of the high school basketball teams.
“It's a tremendous honor. It's something I didn't seek. It's not something I need or want. I'm fully satisfied with just doing the job every day and going home and feeling like I've helped,” said Sievers. “They chose to do this and it's a great honor for me.”
Sievers graduated from Monticello High School in 1966, then went on to earn bachelors and masters degrees from Illinois State University in 1970 and 1972. While substitute teaching in the area and helping run family farms, he settled in as a consultant at Monticello schools and never left.
After they unanimously approved the naming of the gym on Wednesday night, the school board – and everyone else in the room – gave a round of applause for the man who is well-known as the holder of all institutional knowledge for the district.
“In my opinion, it's just very fitting for the man who has dedicated an entire lifetime, 50-plus years to the district,” said Monticello High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Dan Sheehan. “I am very pleased the school board honored him with this for his service to students, staff and the community.”
Zimmerman echoed that sentiment.
“Having been involved in education in four school districts in my lifetime, it would be difficult to find any one person that has given more of themselves for such a significant number of years than Buz Sievers,” he said. “He is the biggest Sage, his heart is purple and gold, and he is so deserving to be recognized forever by Monticello CUSD in this way.”
The honoree is not only a recognizable figure at Monticello school board meetings and athletic events – the media packets he provides for the annual Hoopla basketball tournaments are legendary – but has also worked Illinois High School Association state finals events for decades.
Why Buz? Sievers explains he was named after an uncle who died in a friendly fire incident four days after World War II's D-Day. His nickname came to spare his uncle's spouse pain upon hearing the name Arthur.
Sievers said he comes from a family of nicknames, including his father “Doc” Sievers, an attorney and past Monticello school board president who was the son of a physician.
“They called him 'Little Doc' until he got to six-foot-four, then they took the 'Little' out. To the old timers, he was 'Doc Sievers' all his life.”
After five-plus decades with the school district, Buz doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I'll do it as long as I'm healthy, and as long as its fun,” he said.