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FLORENCE, Ala. —  For custodian George Blackstock, his 52 years of service to Florence City Schools has not gone unnoticed and a special ceremony Friday morning recognized his efforts and showed the appreciation of all the faculty and staff.

What was thought to be a retirement ceremony at Weeden Elementary turned out to be much more—a celebration with pomp and circumstance overwhelming Blackstock with emotion.

Surrounded by his family, Blackstock was surprised with receiving an honorary Florence High School diploma.

“It shocked me when I turned around and seen my wife and daughter; I can say one thing, people don’t know my wife, now she can keep a secret,” Blackstock said.

Blackstock said he never thought he would hold a diploma in his hands, “I did quit school because of a principal and because of a teacher because I could not do art, and they put me in art class and they made fun of me because I could not draw a cup and saucer.”

Blackstock said he was surprised by the honor and the turnout at the ceremony because he didn’t believe the faculty and staff cared for him that much.

“I’m a custodian, they got a college degree, they got this, principal got that—I never felt that these teachers could feel this much towards me.”

Principal Daphnae Hogan said that is the furthest from the truth, “He will go above and beyond to do anything for you. He is one of the ones that wants to do whatever you ask correctly so he’s going give it his best anytime that you ask him to do something.”

Hogan congratulated Blackstock on his retirement but said it’s a tearful farewell, “I know that there are people out there that are willing to do the things that George do, but it just—will never be another George.”

George said even though he’s retiring, he’s still young enough to work, so he’s looking forward to whatever his next chapter in life will bring.