A school security guard in Burlington, weeks away from retirement, received a special sendoff on Wednesday.
Hundreds of students at Lake Garda Elementary School went out of their way to show their appreciation for Bill Onesko, better known as "Mr. O."
Mr. O has been easy to spot. He typically wears a bright orange shirt.
“Whenever we walk in, he always greets us with a smile and he always makes me laugh," said Leah Smolski, a 4th grader.
Wednesday, there was a sea of orange shirts at the school.
Nearly everyone there wore one as a special tribute to the guard who makes them feel safe.
"He loves his job so much," said Stefanie Anderson, principal, Lake Garda Elementary School. "He’s always genuinely happy to be here and it shows.”
Onesko will retire on the last day of school after five years on the job. He was hired to help strengthen security after a career that spanned decades with state police.
“[I] fell in love with it, K through 4," Onesko said. "What’s better than that?”
He said he knew something was amiss this particular Wednesday when he noticed a sign.
"The kids were funny this week because they said, ‘we know a secret’ so I was like ‘oh, what’s going on?'" he said.
Onesko said he and his wife are relocating. That's why he's retiring.
At a time when school security is a top concern, students and administrators said Mr. O can't be replaced.
“He knows all the kids' names, which is an accomplishment in a school of almost 450 kids," Anderson said.
“I’m going to miss him a lot," Leah said. "He’s like the whole thing that makes the school how it is.”
The tribute worked.
“That just shows quite the love they have for you that I hopefully showed them, made them feel safe," Onesko said.
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