ADAMS TWP — William Pettigrew, superintendent for the Mars School District, sat down to lunch with his granddaughter on Thursday.
It was a special day for the retiring school chief, and he got to enjoy his favorite meal, meatloaf, with second grader Izabella Pettigrew at Mars Elementary School.
The day — dubbed “Dr. Pettigrew Day” in the district by the Mars School Board on Monday night — honored Pettigrew for his many years of service to the district.
Board President Dayle Ferguson announced at the Monday night school board meeting that it was Pettigrew's final one after 26 years at the district. He will officially retire Dec. 1.
To Pettigrew's surprise, Ferguson declared the special day through a resolution drafted by the board.
On Thursday, lunch in each building was meatloaf, which is Pettigrew's favorite meal. Nutrition Inc., the district's food service company, also served each student a free “Pettigrew Pretzel” during their lunches.
A message recorded by Pettigrew was played during each building's morning announcements.
“Although you were a hostile participant,” Ferguson said of the recording.
Thursday also was Blue and Gold Day in each of the district's five school buildings, new Superintendent Jim Budzilek said. Students were encouraged to wear the school colors. Teachers and staff also could wear blue jeans on Dr. Pettigrew Day.
Pettigrew visited each school in the district on Thursday to bid farewell to principals, staff and students.
He also read a story to students in his granddaughter's second grade class.
In May the board voted to name the new driveway between Three Degree Road and the elementary school “Doc's Way” as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Pettigrew's self-assured management style.
“Well, first I have a driveway named after me, and now a pretzel,” Pettigrew said. “That really takes it to the top.”
Becoming serious, Pettigrew said he appreciated the board's thoughtfulness approving the resolution.
“I am very, very touched that these people would take that time and effort to recognize me,” he said.
Pettigrew hearkened back on his long career at Mars, which included almost constant growth in the district. He also commented on the many school boards he has taken direction from over more than two decades, and referred to the “hallmark” leadership style mentioned in the resolution.
“I always liked the arguments and consternation over the years, and it was always fun coming to work,” he said.