The symbolism seemed obvious, but Dallastown Area High School principal Alan Fauth would rather ignore it.
Fauth, set to retire this month, marked his last Dallastown graduation Wednesday following 36 years in education. That meant Fauth, 57, would be in a similar position as the 466 graduates: both ready for the next phase in life.
But he said Wednesday morning he wanted the ceremony to focus on the students. Fauth had been keeping his retirement announcement low key on purpose.
"Graduation, this is theirs," said Fauth, the high school principal the past eight years, as he sat in his office hours before the ceremony.
But he said he still felt "bittersweet" about it all, realizing that as students left the building Wednesday for their last day of school, he wouldn't be there in the fall to see their return.
Fauth said he wasn't sure if he was ready to retire until recently, when he realized it was time.
"And once you think that, you can't put the rain back in the cloud," said Fauth, who plans to ski, hunt and fish in retirement. "I've enjoyed the ride the whole time."
The educational ride began in Central York School District 36 years ago as a tech ed teacher and later as a guidance counselor. After a brief stint with Penn Manor School District, Fauth arrived at Dallastown as an assistant high school principal. He took the principal position eight years ago.
"It was a blink," Fauth said of his career. "That's a sign it's been good."
Since then, Fauth said he's been proud to be a "cheerleader" for the 1,800 students and a staff leader who has built a community.
"I'm proud that I think we've raised the bar," Fauth said.
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