Bedford principal treated to royal farewell

Friday, April 5, 2013


Staff Writer

A theme party held at Peter Woodbury School on March 28 transformed a portion of the school into a regal king’s court. It was a story-book setting, where longtime principal Ken Williams was treated by nearly 300 visitors to a royal send-off as he heads into retirement after 24 years at the school.

The sectioned-off part of the school, alongside the gymnasium, resembled the interior of a castle. The walls were papered in royal purple. Gold-colored balloons trailing streamers of yellow ribbon bobbed against the ceiling. A rented throne was mounted upon a small stage and while Mr. Williams had little time to sit upon it, he obligingly donned a cape, crown and scepter for the occasion.

It was all in fun – a commodity abundant that day. Emotions of other types surfaced during a pair of two-hour visitations with a pizza break in between. When court was in session, Williams, his courtiers and his ladies-in-waiting welcomed nearly 300 students, former students, families and friends who lined up to share a handshake, a hug, a laugh, a tear or a recollection.

Williams said it was heartwarming to know that so many people wished him well. He said he plans to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. He has been married for 36 years to his wife, Cathy, a special-education teacher in Weare. Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Sunapee are favorite get-away destinations. He allows that he may, down the road, work with schools on a wider scale, in some capacity.

“This is a great school,” Williams said. “I can’t say enough about the students or the staff. We are high achievers but we have a lot of fun.”

Cheryl Daley, who has served as the assistant principal at Peter Woodbury School since 2002, has been named the newly appointed principal. The announcement was made on March 26, and she will begin her new duties on July 1.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Mayes, in the press release announcing the appointment, stated, “We are fortunate to have someone with Mrs. Daley’s experience and familiarity with Peter Woodbury School as our next principal. She has an excellent relationship with the students and parents of Peter Woodbury School.”

Staff writer Irene Labombarde was on the scene and spoke in person with Mayes, who attended the retirement party at the school. Mayes added further praise of Daley.

“We think it (Daley’s appointment) will make a really nice transition with what Ken has done for two and a half decades,” Mayes said. “She’s been here more than 10 years. She knows the kids, families and teaching staff. She can put her own stamp on the school.”

Daley was humble in the spotlight shared with Williams.

“His are very large shoes to fill,” Daley said of Williams. “He has been so hands-on, whether it’s having lunch with the students or giving them high-fives in the morning, or on the school bus.”

Soon, another wave of visitors engulfed Williams, and Daley left him to go and enjoy some of the music and dancing that went on in the gym during a simultaneous event, Family Fun Night – a gathering of parents, teachers and students that featured milk shakes made with vanilla ice cream.

Court continued and the regal send-off saw even more visitors come to wish Williams all good things in his next adventures.

Best wishes in retirement went out to Williams from the Gamache family, represented by Annalise, Kaeden, Emma, Natalie and Zachary, who all agreed that Williams was “the best” and will be “so missed.”

Amy Gamache, the mother of the youngsters, said Williams welcomed them warmly when the family moved back to Bedford after a stay in the Concord area.

“He made us feel like we were very much a part of the school, from the first day,” Gamache said. “He’s a fun guy and a trustworthy one.”

Laurie Bobotas, a mom who has been an avid volunteer at many school functions, designed and helped decorate the quarters where the royal send-off took place. She agreed with many others that Williams was a force for good in the school and in the lives of the students.

“We will miss him so much,” said Bobotas. “He put heart and soul into everything he did.”

Nate Walton, now in grade 10 at Bedford High School, was enrolled at Peter Woodbury School when he was in kindergarten. Other siblings later attended the school and all found Williams to be a source of strength and a role model worth emulating.

“I was quite the child in my younger years,” Walton said, sharing a hug with Williams. “He’s a man who is friendly and good with kids.”

Similar comments continued throughout the event.

Marcy Albert, a second-grade teacher, said it was the “end of an era.”

“His sense of humor and sense of family to all of us has been unbelievable,” Albert said. “I’ve been with him for 13 years; he hired me. And Cheryl will be fabulous. She is one of our own.”

Mindy Beltramo, librarian, said Williams is excited to do new things and enjoy his grandchildren.

“It’s very hard losing someone who has been the pillar of the school for so long,” said Beltramo.

Angie Wayans, a fourth-grade teacher, said Williams is a family man who made Peter Woodbury School a great community.

“It’s obviously bittersweet,” Wayans said. “He understands that teachers have families too and looks at you like a whole person. He’s amazing.”

Jane Berry, resource teacher at Peter Woodbury School for 14 years, called Williams “a great leader” and “a great boss.”

“He really cares about the teachers, as well as the students,” Berry said. “I’m pretty emotional about (his leaving); He is too.”

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