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Last dance for beloved principal at Victory

Mr Brown steps down after 19 years

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 18/12/2013
Mark Brown
MARTIN de RUYTER/Fairfax NZ

JOINING IN: Victory School principal Mark Brown dances with the school's Pasifika group during a farewell from the school's pupils.

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Victory Primary School pupils, many donning replica Mr Brown-moustaches and neck ties, have farewelled their much-liked and long-serving leader.

Mark Brown started at Victory in 1988 and has been its principal since 1994, but from next year takes on a new role as principal of Newtown School in central Wellington.

Hundreds of pupils and plenty of parents packed into the Victory Community Centre Hall yesterday to celebrate Mr Brown's legacy at Victory and in the community.

He was honoured with a "This Is Your Life"-styled ceremony, made to sit centre-stage with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, and showered with praise and compliments.

A short video featuring interviews with Victory pupils revealed just how much Mr Brown will be missed.

"You are a really cool principal," one boy said.

"You are really nice," chirped another.

An articulate young lass noted that Mr Brown was a "confident person".

"You have helped me with my confidence and I will miss you," she concluded.

"I think Mr Brown is a good principal because he's very good with people."

One pupil thanked him for helping to get his backpack back from bullies, and another said "thanks for helping me find my lost bike".

All the children had the same ultimate message as the last interviewee: "Goodbye Mr Brown, thanks for being our principal".

Swaths of rainbow decked the hall, while a colourful variety of musicians and dancers performed to farewell their principal, who at times got up off his seat and into the thick of the festivities.

Victory teacher Paul Hampton said he thought Mr Brown might be getting a bit emotional, with the farewell ceremony held after a teary-eyed staff function yesterday morning.

"He's an incredible guy, really positive" Mr Hampton said.

"He's just brought so many different cultures together. He is wonderful at getting the best out of people. He will be a massive loss, not just to the school, but the whole community."

Victory's loss will be Newtown's gain, Mr Hampton said.

Board of trustees chairwoman Helen Watson said Mr Brown had been "a positive influence in the lives of countless children and their families".

"He has been a leading light in promoting the idea that family health and wellness is crucial to the success of children at school," she said.

The board had begun the process to find a new principal, she said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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