Principal Glen Adair was lauded as a "visionary, leader, businessman and coach" during a surprise retirement party at Carson High School on Friday afternoon.
"You'll be remembered and greatly missed," vice principal Fred Perdomo told him.
Adair was lured to the school under the guise of a meeting to coordinate a cruise to Alaska he is planning.
About 150 faculty members shouted "surprise" as he walked into the small gym.
He smiled. His wife, Kathy Adair, cried.
"I feel the same way all the teachers do," she said. "Glen loves the kids and he loves this school. This has always been about his heart."
Perdomo presented Adair with a diploma and a block-letter "C." He recounted how the school consisted of a string of several portable rooms along with the main building when Adair arrived 12 years ago.
"It was back when you had to scrape snow off the deck to open the door to the office," he recalled. "Glen came in and took a school that was, as a physical plant, in a disarray and rejuvenated it. He had the vision that we needed."
Although Adair will not retire until the end of the year, athletic director Ron McNutt organized the party early.
"I just thought he deserved something," he said. "There's so much going on at the end of the year, so we settled on a date today."
In honor of his desire to travel, culinary art students cooked food from 10 countries with booths set up around the gym.
Senior Steven Caloiaro was pleased to be a part of the celebration.
"In a sense, I'm glad I'm leaving and not going to spend any time here without Mr. Adair," he said. "He is just a good guy and he cares a lot about his students."
Carl Henry, dean, praised Adair's stamina.
"You haven't seen stamina until you see a young, vital teenager wilt in Glen's office after three hours," he said. "I've seen kids with their eyes glazed over.
"He will wear you down. Stamina."
Two chairs were decorated as thrones for Adair and his wife, while faculty members shared their farewell wishes and presented him with gifts, including luggage and a barbecue.
Adair was also accompanied by his little friend, Fritz Steinle, the 6-year-old son of a teacher who often stops by Adair's office.
"He gives out candy to me," Fritz explained. "He's just my friend."
And Adair considers the faculty and members of the community his friends.
"I've had a long career, but the highlight of my career was building Carson High School with you," he said. "There are so many people in this community and in business who have so unerringly come to our aid."
He said he has no plans to stop working but hasn't yet decided what he will do.
"There are wonderful things out there for people who are willing to be committed to a purpose," he said.
Contact Teri Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 881-1272.