Pete Kelzenberg uplifts community spirit

Olivia Bystrom, Field Reporter

Photo submitted by Pete Kelzenberg
Pete Kelzenberg has a real passion for the Ponies. As an active member of the school community, Kelzenberg is never afraid of showing off his Pony Pride.

It takes a passionate person to make a difference in the world, and community member Pete Kelzenberg is a prime example of exactly the kind of person it takes. Afton resident and father of two, on the surface Kelzenberg seems like the ordinary family man. Beneath the surface however, the impact he has left on the community is nothing short of extraordinary.

Kelzenberg has lived in Afton for 20 years. It was there he settled in with his wife Sara, raised his children Henry and Katie Kelzenberg and took up his position at Afton Realty. It was not until his oldest, Katie, started school in 2005, that he assumed his role in the school community, and developed his strong sense of Pony pride.

“I was a classroom volunteer, especially in the elementary school when they asked for volunteers. So myself aside I said ‘If I’m a volunteer, I’ll get to know the kids in her class and the teachers, and that’ll keep my kids less anonymous,’ and then it kind of grew from there. As I helped out in school, it wasn’t so much for my kids as much as I just enjoyed being there,” Kelzenberg said.

District Duties

From there, his love for interacting with and building relationships within the school community has only continued to grow. Over the years, Kelzenberg has been a part of numerous district events and committees. From the PTA, carnival committees, interviewing new hires to being a member of the Community Design Team (among many other activities) Kelzenberg has played a huge part in district activities. The Kelzenberg name is well known in the community and even made international news a few years ago when his daughter Katie went viral online with her promposal to Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

He’s just an interesting guy. And it’s always something interesting whether it’s about him learning to unicycle or having a giant cutout of The Rock, it’s always something like that with Pete.”

— Dan Belestky

“There’s a news site in India, that just reported on it two years later now, and they just reported on that yesterday. They had the classroom video, his Instagram post, and the promposal itself,” Kelzenberg explained. “It’s been worldwide news since it started. Video is still getting a million views a month,” he said.

School-wide respect

Another one of Kelzenberg’s duties that has garnered him a lot of respect from students is his time spent as a substitute bus driver. Kelzenberg drives teams like Cross Country to meets and competitions. It is there, Kelzenberg has acquired the respect and admiration of many of the team’s members, who all refer to him affectionately as simply “Pete.” Senior Dan Beletsky has come to know Pete through his time spent on Kelzenberg’s bus rides and being friends with Kelzenberg’s son, Henry.

“He’s honestly just relatable and we love him because he’s funny. He’s nice and smart and he’s always got something to say,” Beletsky said. “He’s just an interesting guy. And it’s always something interesting whether it’s about him learning to unicycle or having a giant cutout of The Rock, it’s always something like that with Pete.”

A father’s impact

Aside from his public role as a beloved bus driver, Kelzenberg is a father in every sense of the word. His son, Henry, is one of his father’s biggest fans. Ever since Henry was young, Pete has never failed to show up for his children. Henry fondly described memories of his father taking him to the park as a child, and mentioned his gratitude for the fact that “He’s always tried to be there for me throughout my life.” For Henry, his father sets a great example as a role model for many reasons.

“He tries to respect people’s different beliefs than himself. That’s something which I’ve noticed, and I’ve tried to incorporate that into my life as well,” Henry said.

With Henry graduating in a few short months, it begs the question; will Pete continue to participate in the school community after his son’s graduation? The question was a simple one for Pete to answer. 

“I’ll still stay involved, I’ll still do the bus driving. And I’ll still be involved in whatever committee will have me, or any other,” Pete said.

It looks as though Pete’s love for the community is nowhere near dwindling, with the pursuit of running for school board on the horizon, he will continue to set an example of utmost Pony pride.