SLHS Community Says Goodbye to Bruce Butler
Alumni, staff, parents and students bid principal a fond farewell.
South Lakes High School students and alumni, teachers and administrators, parents and community members gathered at the Reston Community Center Thursday evening to give their best wishes to principal Bruce Butler.
The last day of work for Butler, a 31-year employee of Fairfax County Schools, is Friday.
"Tomorrow, I head into South Lakes for one last time," Butlersaid yesterday. He has been at the school for 14 years, the last seven as principal. "I have a couple of quick meetings. I'll turn in my keys. Then I will turn in my BlackBerry - that will be really easy. Then I will just head out into my next phase.
"I am unbelievably thankful and honored you have all come here tonight," he said. "It's been incredible. I am blessed. Thank you."
Butler thanked many people in his remarks, including the group of dedicated PTSA presidents and officers, local leaders and the South Lakes' staff. He gave special mention to his successor, Kim Retzer, a former South Lakes teacher and assistant principal.
"As soon as she was announced [as the new principal], all the pressure came off," said Butler, 52. "I felt like I could retire."
PTSA President Susan Sather said the parents will miss Butler's leadership - as well as his entertaining slide shows at monthly meetings.
"We will miss Bruce," she said. "He has given so much to South Lakes. We can't be anything but grateful, but I am a little sad."
Former PTSA President Elizabeth Vandenburg is heading an effort to create a landscaping project at the school in Butler's honor. Butler could often be seen spreading grass seed or watering the lawn at the school. For more info and to make a donation, click here.
Lisa Sechrest Ehrhardt's three children graduated from South Lakes in 2009 and 2011. The whole family came RCC to offer its best wishes to Butler.
"Bruce Butler is the best thing to happen to South Lakes," she said. "He did a superb job. He's like family."
Fairfax County Public Schools school board member Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) said Butler has a unique ability to connect with people.
"He really epitomizes a great high school principal," she said. "He was able to build all those relationships with students, teachers and families. I think that is the key to success in education."
Reston Association Parks and Recreation Director Larry Butler, Bruce Butler's brother, had some fun in his speech. He talked about how his older brother was leading and delegating from an early age - and how relaxation will be a top priority for a while.
"The only time you will hear 'IB' coming from him will be to say 'I be going fishing'," said Larry Butler. "And the only boundary dispute he will be in will be with the dog on the sofa."