By Andrew “Drew” Mihalik
When Michael Mihalik was young, at the end of the seniors page of the San Lorenzo Valley High School yearbook there would be a full-page group picture of all of the seniors who had spent every one of their K–12 years in the valley public school system. Michael would have been one of those. He was raised in a valley that strongly supported public schools, public libraries, and community participation.
That participation started at an early age in a stroller at candlelight vigils/protests and continued with his sharing in the care of a string of foster babies and animals. There were baby squirrels that needed to be tube fed—fledglings that fell out of the nest needed to be to tube fed. Family traditions became ingrained: Always fasten your seat belt. Never pass a dog on highway 9 without trying to rescue it—that’s why there’s a collar and a leash and a blanket and a water dish and treats in the car. Stop if you see a possum on the side of the road—there may be babies still clinging to the back. And every family should have a dog. His breed of choice: Golden Retriever.
Family tradition mandated that you either go to school or to work: you don’t have to like it. Fast food, kitchen work (don’t even mention grease traps), and of course the Boardwalk. He found that school was work when he completed the masters program in education at UCSC 18 months after he left Cabrillo.
The outside area of the library resonates with Michael’s affection for the valley and for the notion of learning for learning’s sake. He adheres to another tradition: never go anywhere without a book. He prefers to read outside, usually history. Preferably primary sources. That, cooking, photography Sharks hockey, iconic cars, and (in a previous reality) snowboarding fill his days.