The sound of laughter, tears, dad jokes and AC/DC’s “Long Way to the Top” filled Cowra High School’s (CHS) hall on Friday afternoon as the student body, staff and community farewelled retiring deputy principal Paul Bullock.
Mr Bullock was given a musical and comedic send off by both students and staff, with live performances of rock music and parodies of the CHS stalwart.
A number of colleagues spoke about the impact Mr Bullock had on the school, including Principal Charles Gauci.
“Paul’s reputation reaches far beyond the gates of Cowra High School,” he said.
“His incredible knowledge, experience and passion for teaching never ceases to amaze me.”
Mr Gauci said Mr Bullock always had an incredible rapport with students, staff and families.
“Regardless of how bad a day we’ve had, how challenging the behaviour of a student is, Paul never loses sight of the fact that we are dealing with a person,” he said.
“Paul has never forgotten the fact we separate the behaviour from the person.
“He has never moved from the true belief that we don’t have bad people in our students.”
He presented Mr Bullock with a CHS calculator and his official retirement medal.
After a history of his career from CHS captains Erika Sullivan and Sam Long, CHS P&C President Peter Wilson also paid tribute to Mr Bullock, stating the Deputy Principal showed “leadership”, “commitment” and was an “excellent role model” for students.
A performance of Mr Bullock’s favourite tunes, including Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” and AC/DC had the crowd singing while students from each year group at the school made a presentation about the contribution he had made at the school.
This included a skit by Year 8 students who dressed up as Mr Bullock – complete with grey hair and colourful ties – and spoke about the school’s mobile phone policies and his catch-cry of "respect and responsibility”.
Teacher Anthony Hamer spoke on behalf of the faculties before Mr Bullock was presented with a memory box, with more than 250 messages from students and staff.
Mr Bullock said he was “blown away” and “overwhelmed” by the response of the school community but reiterated that it is all about the kids.
“The level of respect and responsibility shown by these beautiful kids up here today,” he said.
“It’s all about the kids, students of Cowra High School, it's all about you. I’m proud to have had some sort of an influence in the lives of you all.”
Mr Bullock took the opportunity to speak about the advancements in technology throughout his career – both positive and negative – and the differences between working as a classroom teacher and a deputy principal.
“In the classroom, you can be planned and you can pretend that you are in control, but in the DP’s office it’s just a random event one after the other,” he said.
“It’s not all laughter and smiles, I’ve had some difficult conversations over the years with both adults and children but I appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given, in any small way, to contribute to the growth and development of the children.”
He thanked fellow staff, both past and present, students and his family for their support and spoke about the opportunities provided by rural public schools.
“I’ve had 23 wonderful years here at CHS and it’s hard to quantify the experiences that I've had and the memories I’ll take away in a few words. I’ve worked with the finest people, both adults and kids,” he said.
“I get an enormous sense of satisfaction of running a school that's got 550 odd kids and somewhere between 80 and 100 adults at any one time trying to get the best outcome for our kids.
“We should never attempt to quantify the success of education by academic results alone, it’s the opportunities that we provide students here.”
He also left the school with some advice.
“Don’t lose control of your babies, be prepared to make some tough decisions when you need too,” he said.
“Let them be kids, don’t encourage them to grow up too quickly.”
Mr Bullock said while it was bittersweet to be retiring, he knows it is the right time.
“I will be forever grateful for how lucky I’ve been to have something so special here that makes saying goodbye so very hard.”
Mr Bullock will officially retire on January 26, 2019.