The days of eating school lunches are almost over for Gulfport High principal Lester Denley. For eight years, the Delta native has helped smooth out first day kinks like helping students who don't know their lunch or class schedule. All the while, the easy going Denley keeps a cool head and a smile on his face.
"You can tell if you need to get the uncool head and lose the smile. Everybody's just in a good frame of mind and it really looks like mass confusion but it's not."
Denley's educational career has taken him to Long Beach, Harrison County and finally Gulfport schools. After 37 years, he says it's time to pass the job onto someone else.
"This job needs a young man, a young person and I'm getting' a little long in the tooth and I'm thinkin' it's time for a younger person to take over."
When that happens, Denley says it will be the students he misses most.
"There's just no question I'll miss the interaction with the students. That's always been what's carried me to start with, the interaction with the students, I'll miss that most...and the interaction with the teachers."
Denley says not getting up everyday to go to work will take some getting used to, but he says when he walks out of the high school doors in December for the last time, he will take many happy memories with him. Denley says he plans to do some fishing, play a little golf and read.
A new principal has already been hired to replace Denley. Joel Myrick comes to Gulfport from Corinth High School, where he was the principal.