Happy Valley principal honored with surprise dance party

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NW0506 Big Orange Day A

Happy Valley Elementary school is quite a ways from Knoxville, but on Tuesday afternoon the school was transformed into Big Orange Country in honor of retiring principal Dale Potter.

Students, faculty and staff donned their brightest orange clothes and gathered on the school’s playground to surprise Potter with a dance party and to share memories of time with their principal. Potter is known to all at the school as the biggest Tennessee Vols fan.

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Potter has been at Happy Valley Elementary since 1994. He started as assistant principal before becoming principal of the school.

The entire event was a surprise to Potter who did not know anything had been planned for him.

“When I came through the cafeteria and saw everyone outside, I didn’t know what was going on,” Potter said. “We used to have a fundraiser and if we hit our goal I would get a pie in the face. I was looking around for pies and I got a party. Either one would have been fine.”

Secretary Rebecca White had a hand in planning the surprise party for Potter. The party was held during Teacher Appreciation Week at the elementary school.

“We love him,” White said. “He has been here for years so we wanted him to know he is appreciated.”

Students held signs that said “Thank You Mr. Potter” and “HVE will always be home sweet home to me.” When Potter made his way out on to the steps behind the cafeteria, Rocky Top began to play from a stereo system. Teachers and students danced to the song as Potter watched.

After Rocky Top ended, the Happy Valley High School marching band played a number of songs and Potter joined the students in dancing along to the music. After the music came to an end, students presented Potter with cards they had made for him and shared their best memories with him.

“This is overwhelming,” Potter said. “These guys are fantastic. Happy Valley is a family.”

Potter has spent more than 20 years in school administration, and said he felt it was time to take his retirement.

“That is a long time to be a principal,” he said. “Education has always been good to me. I will miss the kids the most. What else is there? Look at these guys. They make everyday great.”