OHIO — Ohio Schools wished one of their most beloved employees a happy retirement this week.
Throughout his 30 years of service, Sean Piper was more than just a school custodian. He was there to offer a smile, hug or words of encouragement to anyone in need. He was a friend to all teachers and staff. And the students looked up to him for his positive outlook on life.
Whether it was line dancing with the kindergarteners before school or renting a tuxedo to attend prom with the high school kids, Piper was always up for making someone’s day.
Piper was hired as custodian in 1989 right out of high school through a work program. He enjoyed the job so much, he continued working full-time at the school in 1990.
“It’s really been a blessing to have this job. The kids are great. The teachers are great. … It’s just a really great community,” Piper said.
The school hosted a lunch for Piper on Tuesday as students and staff wished him luck in his new life chapter. The community also had the opportunity to wish Piper well during an open house later in the day where he was presented with a plaque recognizing his dedication to Ohio.
Piper was emotional looking back on all the years at the school.
He said it’s the people he’s going to miss most. The community seemed to wrap their arms around Piper, who rarely ever missed a school sporting event or band concert. He was a popular person among the students, and the staff always kept an eye out for him to ensure he made it home across town safely each night.
“They took good care of me,” Piper said.
Ohio Schools’ Principal Jason Wilt worked with Piper eight years and noted the positivity and energy he brought to the school, no matter what day it was.
“Whether it’s a Monday or a Friday, he’s a happy-go-lucky guy. He’s happy to be here meeting and greeting all the kids as they walk in and all the staff. He’s always bringing that positive energy we want here. That’s what we really thrive for here. He definitely will be missed,” Wilt said.
Piper’s mother, Carol, called his career at the school a blessing.
“Everybody has been a wonderful support system through the years. It just couldn’t have been any better. Couldn’t have worked out any better for him,” she said.
His father, Pat, added, “We’re very lucky.”
Over the years, Piper has watched decades of students grow up and graduate from Ohio Schools.
“I get compliments from the ones who graduate from here. They’ll say, ‘You know, Sean, you’re a big inspiration to me. You helped me through it with your smile and the way you carried yourself,’” he said. “That really meant a lot to me.”
One of those students was Jennifer Donnelly, who returned to Ohio after college to be the school speech pathologist.
“Sean has been a part of the school for as long as I’ve been around. It will be different without Sean Piper here,” she said.
Kelly Becker, superintendent secretary, called Piper a “true Bulldog supporter.”
“He attends everything. Concerts, basketball games, everything. You name it, he’s there,” she said. “The students just love him.”
Piper has plans to move from Ohio to the Clark House in Princeton, where he looks forward to a slower pace of life and meeting new people.