Hats Off to Reilly

The Our Lady of Peace School community donned hats last week to offer “hats off” to Principal C’Ann Reilly, who will retire this June after 28 years with the school.

Students, parents, faculty and others were present for the special surprise celebration that began with a flash mob by students as Reilly entered the gym.

“We wanted to make sure she went out with a special surprise,” said Maureen Kerr, the teacher who will assume the role of principal after Reilly leaves in June. “This is exactly the type of thing she would have done for us. She’s so special … she has done so many things to make this school what it is today. We’re sad to see her go, but we’re also excited that she gets to enjoy … time with her husband and her family.”

After Reilly received a prime seat for the show, each grade level gave a special performance to honor her. While the kindergarten class danced to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” the first grade reminded Reilly that there is a season for everything – but would she “stay, please?” Second, third and fourth graders asked her to remember all of the fun she’s had while being a great principal.

Continuing the show, the sixth grade said what they love most about Reilly. Some students referenced her dedication, others her laugh, and one mentioned Reilly directing the annual Christmas play. Joining a panel of seventh-grade students for a dress contest, Reilly then participated in the event as a special guest judge. She gave a “10” to all contestants, but students ultimately named her as best-dressed.

One student dressed as a can of soda brought many special deliveries of Diet Coke, Reilly’s favorite beverage. A cardboard cut-out Pope Francis even made an appearance at one point during the show.

Within so many lighthearted moments were heart-felt gestures, including the Rev. Dennis Schuelkens and students singing “Thank You (For Giving to the Lord).”

Schuelkens and a student escorted Reilly outdoors for her final surprise of the morning – a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Reilly, who wore a hat gifted to her at the beginning of the morning’s celebration, sported a smile on her face and sometimes tears in her eyes as she absorbed the school community’s appreciation.

“How wonderful,” Reilly said about being in awe of the entire celebration.