Saying they wanted to help her "slide into retirement," Hillside Elementary School students and staff surprised Principal Julie Kremer with an "Electric Slide" flash mob dance in the closing school's final days.
While voters were mobbing the polls Tuesday in the historic gubernatorial recall election, Hillside had a big event of its own: its final all-school assembly and farewell to Kremer and health assistant Nancy Kucharski, .
"Thank you for your sincere kindness," Kremer told everyone, wiping away tears and holding a bouquet of flowers.
Hillside is closing this month after 43 years, due to declining enrollment and budget pressures. It held a May 24.
During the assembly awards were handed out for perfect attendance, and a slideshow put together by students of Hillside memories was shown on a big screen.
Each grade level performed a song, and everyone joined in singing the school song.
'Hawk Rock Anthem' Rocks the Gym
Physical education teacher Joel Nellis and two fifth graders, Tery Williams and Jacob Hernandez, wrote Hillside-themed lyrics to the Party Rock Anthem, renaming it Hawk Rock Anthem, for a rocking performance by students and some staff.
Students gave Kremer and Kucharski hanging baskets and binders to remember Hillside. They shared "little known facts" about the two women.
Like how Mrs. Kucharski's favorite words were "blah, blah, blah," and how she has given all her beagles the same name ("Buffy 1, Buffy 2 and Buffy 3"). And how she has six grandchildren and one on the way (one child was heard saying "what does that mean, one on the way?"), how she loves to peel labels off everything, sings in her church choir and loves to bake, especially baklava for her church.
"I want to thank you all very much, this is beautiful," Kucharski said.
Students shared that Mrs. Kremer had been in education for 34 years, starting as a teacher in Iowa, and spent the last 15 years as Hillside's principal. How she has "a bunch of grandchildren" and loves to travel and listen to jazz music. And how Mrs. Kremer has three children whose names — like her own — start with J: Jill, Justin and Jake.
"Boys and girls, it's just really been a wonderful 15 years," Kremer said. "And each one of your smiles is what means the most to me. Keep those smiles always in your heart."
Kremer: Have fun at new schools
She told the students to look forward to next year at their new schools.
"There will be familiar faces, some of your teachers will be there, so it's just going to be a really great year next year," Kremer said.
She urged them to show kindness and "do nice things" for their new and old friends — "that would be Mrs. Kremer's wish for all of you."