FORT SMITH (KFSM)- After decades of serving as principal of Southside High School, Wayne Haver announces he will retire at the end of the school year.
For 48 years, Mr. Haver has walked the halls of Southside. First as a business teacher, then an assistant and now principal.
"I get here about 7:15 every morning," Haver said. "There`s already a couple of [people] here and then they all start arriving. I hit the cafeteria and fist bump all the special education kids. It`s gonna be a change, but I think I`m ready for that change."
Haver will retire when the semester is over and memories of all his years fill his office along with some that he keeps closest to his heart.
"Academics are the most important thing in any school but the first year we won the football state championship was quite a thing.," Haver said. "It was such a surprise. We were number four and we were playing Parkview who was the best school Arkansas had ever produced according to sports writers and things and we beat them in the state championship 9-6."
His success is reflected in every student from helping lead the school to nearly 15 nominations for Newsweek's Top Schools in the Nation to multiple awards for his service as an educator. But as humble as Mr. Haver is, he said you can find one of his best decisions in the cafeteria.
"I let [the students] pull their tables together if they want to so they can all sit together," Haver said. "As many as three and four tables at a time as long as they put them back. So, I put blue squares, tile down in the cafeteria underneath the table where I wanted the tables so I had the aisle ways. I tell people that`s one of the two great decision I`ve made at Southside and I forgot what the other one was."
Teachers, students and staff all agree that this principal will be greatly missed, but he's leaving behind a legacy unlike any other.
"He`s a role model for everybody." Darian Roberson, senior said. "He shows true character throughout the years that I`ve been here. Everybody looks up to him as a principal, not just because he`s a principal, but because he`s a man of his word."
"I think a lot of people have been touched by Mr. Haver and what he`s done here," Sandra Winters, school receptionist of 14 years said. "He`s been a very good principal. We`ve had thousands of kids go through here and they think of him as...this is Mr. Haver`s school."
As most know, he will always keep the Southside Fight Song tune fresh in everyone's memory.
Many students said their fondest memory is hearing Mr. Haver play his harmonica at school pep rallies.
Haver said after retirement, he plans to expand the Fort Smith Air Museum and maybe eventually add a wing to it.
He said he also plans to spend lots of time with his wife and family.