CURT Wilson held it together. Barely.

The North Conejos School Superintendent choked on emotion Wednesday when he walked into the new Centauri High School gymnasium to a full house that had gathered to give him a surprise send off for his retirement from the school district after more than 30 years of service.

He had no idea it was coming.

His mother, Marion, sat at the bottom of the bleachers, pleased as punch by the reception. His wife, Cindy; daughter, Taylor; and granddaughter Allison added to the ceremony, helping steady a man who has dedicated his life to serving the students, teachers and staff of the school district.

“I don’t know what to say except to tell you that I love you,” he told the gathered crowd of students and staff. “Be fiercely proud of being a Centauri Falcon.”

WHEN it was over, after the gifts and memories were all shared and the skits by students were performed, he greeted each student one by one, giving them a fist bump, a hug, a smile, and a nod of appreciation.

“He’s going to miss the students,” said his mom, Marion Wilson.

“I have no words to express the amount of gratitude for this place and these people. It can’t be done,” Wilson said.

“I struggled,” he said of his emotions, “because I care about the kids and the people of this place. It’s not just a job, they’re my family. They treated my family well for generations. They’ve been very good to me. I have nothing but gratitude for each individual and for the group collectively.”

How the staff pulled off the surprise is a story unto itself. He was finishing a doctor’s appointment when he got a call from the school district saying “something is really screwed up in the gymnasium and they needed me back ASAP.”

This is a superintendent who for years worked to get the school district a new high school. To tell him that the beautiful new gymnasium inside the new school had a problem was like telling a new parent that something was wrong with their newborn.

“I’m thinking, ‘What in the world is going on?’” he said “Then I walked in here and it’s like, ‘this is not something screwed up.’”

No, it was a celebration for a school administrator who gave everything he had to the only place he ever loved.

His last day is June 30.

Watch video from the event:

YouTube video