The Michael Infestation


Addison Shepard

Michael Gauntner left an impression (and lots of pictures of himself) around NAI last year.

Addison Shepard, Staff Writer

Last year, one man set out on a journey to take over his school – and the world – one photo at a time. Although he has moved on to NASH, his adventures live on in the memories of students and teachers.

Current junior Michael Gauntner is perhaps most well known for the instance last year where he decorated the walls of NAI  with copies of his school picture. “It all started because of my school picture that year,” he says. “I didn’t buy any, but I was given two small pictures of myself. So I decided to cut them out and hang them up in Mr. Winschel’s room. That’s when the idea came to me. I thought it would be funny to further spread my faces to the French room, and then to the rest of the school. I decided to print hundreds of tiny photos of myself and start putting them up around the school and give them to teachers.”

Soon enough, there were pictures of Michael in every corner of the school. “I probably hung up around 300 photos. I would have my friends also help me put up photos so they could have been in places I had no clue about.” He says about what is now known as the ‘Michael infestation’: “It was a lot of fun plastering my face everywhere. It was also just funny seeing other students and teachers’ reactions to it, too,” 

There were so many pictures up that Gauntner even got called down to the office at one point because the school thought he was being bullied. “I was honestly shocked that somebody would’ve done that in the first place,” Gauntner says. “[The school then] asked for me to stop, which sadly put an end to the whole thing.” 

“I thought, ‘This is classic Michael Gauntner,’” says European History teacher Mr. Winshel. “If anyone would do it, it’s him.”

Winshel has known Gauntner for years. He coached him in middle school track and cross country before teaching him in his freshman year. “Michael was in my class during COVID, so he had limited opportunity during my class to show his personality. And since he had such a big personality, he was able to lighten the mood with his comments and his attitude.”

“I thought it was hysterical,” says French teacher Madame Mangan, one of Michael’s favorite teachers. “Even after the custodians had to take them all down, you would still find pictures of Michael around the school. It even made it out of the school and into people’s homes.”

Mangan also fondly remembers him in this class: “Michael has a really good personality and he was able to get people to get involved in things, like getting people involved in games, or when we decorated the room, which I think made it a better environment.”

Gauntner often showed up in Mangan’s room, and regularly gave her strange gifts. “[My favorite thing he gave me was] the giant flag of Michael, which is double sided with Michael’s face on it. It says ‘bonjour’ and ‘comment ça va’, and I’m super proud that he spelled everything right,” she says. 

“I like giving Madame gifts because she’s one of my favorite teachers,” Gauntner says. “I have a close enough bond with her where I can give her dumb things such as a giant cardboard cutout or a banner with my face on it. It’s also very funny to see her reaction to the gifts as well. She’s a very expressive person, which I love.”

Gauntner is also notorious for his extravagant outfits during spirit week. “I like dressing up because it’s fun to see what I have and go all out for it,” He says. “My favorite one was my America get-up, which consisted of a US cowboy hat, US socks, a US shirt, US shoes, and red shorts.”

When asked why he liked to spice up school life so much, Gaunter cited getting a reaction as a main reason. “I’ve always been the type to do things like this. I get personal enjoyment, but I also like seeing the reaction of others.”

Michael may be gone, but the school will not forget him soon. He was a bright light that cheered up students during a dreary school year. “He was definitely able to get people to follow him,” Mangan says. “He was a leader, and people would do what he needed them to do.”