First day provides special treat at Brook Forest in Oak Brook
Brook Forest School Principal Nina McCabe, who is retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year, reacts after being surprised by students, teachers and staff with a surprise celebration in her honor. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:15AM
Oak Brook — With about 270 students looking on, Principal Nina McCabe was the biggest kid of all the first day of the new school year at Brook Forest Elementary School.
To mark the final first day of a new school year for McCabe, who is retiring in June, Brook Forest staff and students surprised their principal by acknowledging her contributions and arranging for a special brief ceremony.
The Oak Brook Fire Department sent over a fire engine, its chief and a firefighter to present McCabe with a badge as an honorary member of the department.
McCabe, who is starting her eighth year at Brook Forest, was visibly emotional when she walked outside of the school building to applause from students and staff. But her emotions didn’t get in the way of being able to quickly ask if she could have a ride on the fire engine, a request that was honored.
“The first day of school is always special,” McCabe said after her ride. “The most special part for all of us here is seeing the children; we really miss them. Summer is a wonderful time for children, but they also look forward to coming back to school. It’s a time for them to renew friendships, and it really is another new start for everyone.”
Students certainly seemed excited to back at school after summer break.
“You’re so excited that first night before school starts that it’s hard to fall asleep,” said Riley Conway, a third-grader at Brook Forest. “It’s fun to be back at school because of all the activities we do and the learning.”
Fellow third-grader Shiven Shah also was glad to be back at school.
“I’m excited, too, but I still slept,” he said. “When you come back to school you get to see your friends, and you don’t usually get to see them over the summer.”
Brook Forest teacher Christa Halstead, who organized the program for McCabe, said it was the least that could be done.
“She’s one of the best educators around,” Halstead said. “She takes safety very seriously and really believes in community outreach. She has a great rapport with the fire and police departments, so we thought having the Fire Department come to make her an honorary member was perfect.
“She always says that it’s always bright and sunny at Brook Forest School. That’s her motto, and she’s been a huge part of making things be that way.”