Woods Cross High students gave Principal Wally Hawkins a standing ovation Wednesday. They recited a poem written for him and sang the "Star Spangled Banner."
They even gave him a dozen red roses.It was a hero's farewell - followed by an assembly featuring magician Jack Lythgoe.
By noon Thursday, Hawkins, a field medic with the Army's 328th General Hospital, was at Fort Douglas, preparing to deploy to Germany then to Saudi Arabia for a possible war with Iraq, a conflict many wish Lythgoe could make disappear.
Hawkins, a staff sergeant who would have been eligible to retire from the Army on Jan. 6, is one of three Davis County educators called into military service. Ed Hogan, a teacher at Mueller Park Junior High, is a member of the neuro-pyschological unit of the 328th. Frank Kline, a teacher at Layton High School, has already left with his reserve unit.
"It's a real loss for us," said Rich Kendell, Davis School District superintendent.
Hawkins, 43, is leaving his wife, Elaine, and four children, Chad, Tyler, Derrick and Heidi, on a duty that will last from 180 days to a year.
Is he afraid of the assignment? "Frightened? No. But I'm worried about my family . . . My kids, especially my youngest, think that Daddy's going away and they're not going to get any Christmas . . . It hasn't sunk in completely yet but we're past the crying."
A member of the 328th for 21 years, Hawkins said he will have to relearn many of the skills he was taught when he enlisted.
"I haven't really done anything as a medic for 18 years . . . I hope I don't scare anyone by saying that."
In Hawkins' absence, vice principal Mike Jarman will act as principal until a new one is appointed by the school board. Though the district is not paying him while he's gone, Hawkins, like the other educators on military duty, has been promised his position will be waiting for him when he returns.
That will come as relief to Earline Blaser, a Hawkins admirer who has two children attending the school and has several others in junior high.
"He is really an unusual principal. He is very close to the kids." Blaser, whose daughter is student body vice president, said Hawkins has restored much-needed discipline at the high school.
Before coming to Woods Cross High, he was vice principal and principal at South Davis Junior High. And before that, he worked nine years at Woods Cross High as a teacher and football coach.
Said Hawkins, "I'm really going to miss my job . . . the students, teachers and staff here are just great."