CLAYTON — A large group of students gathered at Northmont Stadium last Thursday evening to pay tribute to Principal George Caras, who served as the principal at Northmont High School for the last nine years.
The district opted not to renew Caras’ contract. He was very popular with students and was well known for his hugs. Many students considered Caras their second father. Comments to that effect were made by many of the students who spoke at the gathering, which was also attended by a few parents and teachers.
Students brought posters to the gathering, one of which stated, “Caras is the Goat.”
“You always did the right thing, stood up for what you believed in and don’t ever back down,” said female student. “Please look around at everyone who is here for you. They are here for you because you impacted each of their lives in ways that they will never forget. They are here for you because you have given them a father, a teacher and a friend. You have given them self-assurance, hope and happiness. You just aren’t a principal, you are someone who changes lives. I love you so much and I want to thank you for being my most amazing principal for the past few years.”
Many recalled how Caras had helped them get through a difficult period during their high school years.
Teacher Deborah Gravitt recalled that when she went to work for Meadowdale some 30 years ago, Caras greeted her by saying something to the effect, “Hey baby. Welcome to Meadowdale!”
Another student recounted how Caras would always slap him on his biceps whenever he saw him in the hallway and how much it hurt after he had gotten tattoos.
“I was sore the whole day, but I love you though. I love you from the base of my heart,” he said.
A rowdy group of football players stormed the field late in the ceremony to join the tribute. One held a sign that said, “Best person of all time!” Another proclaimed, “You will always be our principal.”
One thanked him for coming to all of the football games to lend support.
“Mr. Caras was always there for us. You always support the football team and we are all here, all of us, every single one of us because we love you,” another player stated. “You are like a dad to us.”
Another spoke of how Caras consoled him when his friend died.
After several students spoke, Caras took the microphone to address his well-wishers.
“We have been out her long enough and I want to do this without shedding another tear,” he said. “Almost 80 years ago there was a gentleman named Lou Gehrig and he stood in a field similar to this with a couple more fans in Yankee Stadium. He was possibly the best baseball player ever. He stood before the fans and told them he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and would not be able to play baseball any more. He stood in front of those fans and he told them, ‘Today, I am the luckiest man in the world.’ The difference between me and Lou Gehrig is I am not the best baseball player in the world, and secondly to my knowledge, I don’t have a terminal illness. Yet, there is a similarity. Tonight, I am the luckiest man in the world. I am so honored by my family, my wife and two incredible kids and I am surrounded by all of my other incredible kids. There is no better gift or feeling for a fairly old, chubby man than to have his family around him. I can’t thank you enough for making this last nine years the best time of my life. You can continue this with the relationships that you have established here. The good thing about Northmont is how we take care of each other.”
He urged students to support new high school Principal Joe Inkrott
“Give him all the help and support that you can,” Caras added and then joked, “Cause he is going to need it. I love you all. Thank you so much. Now, get out of this weather.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind