Retiring principal sent out in style

Published 8:54 am Thursday, June 2, 2016

They stomped. They cheered. They yelled.

And then, they danced.

A whole school’s worth of teachers and children, pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, moved together in a choreographed sea of arms to the song “Celebrate.”

And just in front of them, with a smile of utter surprise, was their William R. Davie principal, Rex Allen. They came to celebrate him and his upcoming retirement after 32 years of serving children in public schools.

Near the top of the gym, hidden until the song started, was Allen’s wife, Louisa, and son, Brock. They kept their heads down during the first part of what Allen thought was a pep rally to get the children ready for end-of-grade tests.

Teachers Tina Dyson and Jennie Kimel, wearing inflated suits, wrestled Sumo style, bouncing off each other, while the children laughed at the antics. Then teachers raced holding balloons between their knees and threw pool noodles through hula hoops, Western Carolina University against Appalachian State University (Allen’s alma mater).

And then on cue, the song “Celebrate” came on, and the students’ flash mob started. They stood, along with their teachers, and then Louisa and Brock popped up to dance along. For a moment, Allen seemed unsure what was happening, but as signs saying Happy Retirement Mr. Allen popped up, a huge smile spread across his face.

Dyson said later most of the children had only three days to learn the dance moves, and the pre-kindergarten students had less time than that since they don’t have gym class, as the others did, to learn the dance. But they all knew the moves, and when the song was played for a second time, Allen even joined in on the dance.

Before the students were dismissed, there was another game for the teachers, tossing balls into trashcans, and Allen announced the Mountaineers as the winners. Giving the signal for the students to take their seats and prepare to listen, he reminded the students to take their time and do their best on the EOG tests, before telling them, “Thank you everyone for a great way to celebrate. Thank you for helping me celebrate my retirement. I am going to miss all of you, but don’t forget I am here until the end of the year.”

Allen has been principal at William R. Davie for 11 years.