West Homer Elementary School Principal Charles Walsworth received a surprise gift Tuesday morning from his 262 students: a crossing guard vest with all their signatures written across it.
Walsworth retires today, after 24 years as a teacher or principal, 17 years in Fairbanks and seven here in Homer.
Purchased by the Parent Teachers Organization and passed surreptitiously around the school when Mr. Walsworth wasn’t looking by the students of Ben Stephens’ fifth-grade class, the vest is of special significance to this popular principal.
“He wears his safety vest and greets all the kids every morning,” Stephens said. “He knows everyone’s name. We’ve always admired that about him.”
President of the West Homer Elementary Student Council, Nicholas Faulkner presented the vest to Walsworth on Tuesday morning, with a short speech.
“I would like to say a few words for Mr. Walsworth,” Faulkner said. “First, I would like to thank him, our principal, for all these long years. I can’t believe he memorized all of our names. Also, every morning he’s outside whether it’s raining, snowing, even when it’s 30 below (zero) he’s out there making sure we’re safe. Thank you Mr. Walsworth, you are a great principal. We’ll miss you a whole lot and every time we cross that street, we’ll think of you.”
Walsworth celebrated his last days at West Homer with a cookout on Tuesday, grilling hotdogs and hamburgers for his students. He said his most immediate plans in retirement involve going to a family reunion this summer. He plans to be around Homer after that.
Next year, students will greet new principal John Hurley, who comes to Homer from Metlakatla. He was principal at the Annette Island School District.
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