September 1, 2008

Fiordland Principal Retires After 18 Years

By FRASER, Bruce in Te Anau

FIORDLAND COLLEGE principal Bill Verrall retired yesterday after 18 years at the school.

Pupils and parents had learned of his departure only last week through the college newsletter, in which the board of trustees said he would retire immediately on advice from a medical specialist.

His news was a major surprise and disappointment, it said.

At his final assembly yesterday Mr Verrall spoke of the quality of the college's graduates. The college was known for not only top- flight graduates who won prizes and scholarships but for the far larger group of steady achievers -- people who could walk into the job of their choice, he said.

Recruiters kept coming back to Fiordland College for talented pupils.

"They are picking out our people -- they don't do that everywhere," he said.

He commended the pupils for their courtesy, maturity, honesty and care for one another. To have been part of so many young people's lives and to have watched their development and maturing had been a privilege, he said.

"To see you grow and change as human beings -- there's no greater pleasure than being part of that," he said.

He declined to comment on his medical condition.

The board had appointed Wayne Dixon, recently retired principal of South Otago High School, as acting principal, Mr Verrall said.

Board of trustees, staff and student representatives thanked Mr Verrall for his work.

Past chairwoman of the board of trustees Jan Brown said he had touched many pupils' lives for the better during his time at the college.

She marked the moment by snipping the principal's tie, saying: "This is one thing you won't be needing any more." Staff and students gave him a plaque incorporating a recorder, since his office had been within clear earshot of music classes.


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