East Limestone’s Mr. Black retires after 36 years

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EAST LIMESTONE, Ala. (WHNT) – For about as long as many folks can remember, Dennis Black has been the principal at East Limestone High School. He  coached and taught generations of young people, reaching out to make a positive difference in as many lives as he possibly could. But Tuesday, after almost 37 years at East Limestone, was his day. His final day.

It wasn’t easy, but the staff at East Limestone High School managed to surprise their principal with a retirement luncheon and a few gifts. We asked Mr. Black as he looked back, what was he most proud of?

“What I’m a part of. You know, I’m a part of a great, great school, a great group of teachers. But the biggest thing is our group of kids. You know, just like last year’s graduating class, we walked 175 out of 177.  We had $4.6 million in scholarships earned,” Black explained.

Mr. Black has always been all about the students and their success. He preached high school was not the end of learning and growing, but the beginning. He tried to instill character in his students, to make them not just smarter but better people. It was not unusual to see him put an arm around a student’s shoulder and say, “I appreciate you.” That was always easy for Mr. Black. Saying goodbye was not.

“Y’all are the best faculty I’ve ever been around. I mean, just to give you an idea, y’all are so good that y’all can take an old country redneck and make him look like he knows what he’s doing as principal. That says a lot. Because y’all make me look good every day with the way you work, the way you take care of kids, you make me feel like I did something right.”

You did, Mr. Black, and we thank you.

East Limestone’s former assistant principal, Elaine Lauderdale, has been named interim principal until a permanent replacement is selected. That person, by all accounts, will have a large pair of shoes to fill.

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