"When I'm gone, when I'm gone, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone.

"You're gonna miss me by my walk, you're gonna miss me by my talk, oh, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone."

Brunswick School students sung the song Cups popularised by actress Anna Kendrick in the film Pitch Perfect at a leaving assembly for their principal on Tuesday.

There wasn't an available car park in sight on Campbell Rd as people turned out to support Jan Clark who is retiring after 11 years at the school.

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The students sang, speeches were made and presents were given in a jam-packed room four as Clark sat by with a box of tissues in her hand.

The first lot of speeches were by year eight students Jacobi Jones, Charlotte Parkes, Amy Venter and Aarna Marwah who were with Clark from the moment they started school.

Then board chair Frank Gibson spoke, having worked with Clark on the board of trustees for three years.

Judi Huthnance reads from her four page speech as departing principal Jan Clark takes in all she has to say in a packed room four at Brunswick School. Photo / Bevan Conley
Judi Huthnance reads from her four page speech as departing principal Jan Clark takes in all she has to say in a packed room four at Brunswick School. Photo / Bevan Conley

He said that Clark always put the school at the front of all her actions.

"At the forefront of all she does is the good of the tamariki. She has taken great trouble to find out all she can about each and every child entrusted to her care," Gibson said.

"Now Jan is retiring, she will find that teachers do not retire. They rearrange their lives so they can do the fun bits of teaching without the hassle of paperwork, staff meetings and the like."

During the school assembly, awards were handed out to students for their success in swimming sports as well as their learning efforts throughout the term.

They sung waiata such as Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah in te reo Māori, the school song Growing up in Brunswick and office administrator Judi Huthnance spoke.

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The room full of students, staff and parents laughed as Huthnance unravelled four pages of A4 paper.

"Over the 11 years we have had Jan as principal, we have seen the school thrive, building up from 49 pupils when she started to 84 at the highest point," she said.

"The kids loved being in her class when it was her day to teach. She had a kind, gentle approach that showed children respect and they respected her back."

Clark fitted a lot into 11 years, overseeing the building of a new garage, the upgrading of the school pool as well as classrooms and introducing projectors, iPads and Macbooks.

She was also big on dressing up for book week, appearing as Mrs Wishy Washy, a witch, a grandpa and the Queen of Hearts.

Huthnance said Clark was well known for her "zany" glasses and co-ordinated clothes, fingernails and shoes.

"We all wish her the best retirement ever and I think two room one pupils summed it up beautifully last week. Sam said 'she's going to have fun for the rest of her life'

"Then Regan said 'yes, and the government's going to give her money'."

Finally, the woman of the hour held herself together to make a speech of her own.

Clark first applied to be the principal of Brunswick School three years before she actually got the role.

Her application was unsuccessful and she went home feeling despondent.

"Three years later, the job came up again and I thought will I or won't I?

"I got my CV updated and my daughter said 'stop procrastinating for goodness sake' and she took it, brought it out here and handed it in to Judy the day the job closed."

Clark said the garden was waiting for her in retirement and she had immediate plans to clean the house, throw out the junk and "attack" her school office.

"I've seen a lot of children go through the doors in my time and it really is quite exciting to see them down town, not so exciting when you see them with their own offspring," Clark said to a roomful of laughs.

"Thank you to all those people who have supported me over the years. It hasn't always been plain sailing, but there's been a heck of a lot of fun."
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