BY KYLE YEATMAN
Campus supervisor Don Perry joined the Carmel High School staff in 2001, expecting to work for roughly four years before retiring. More than a decade later, Perry has become a staple of the CHS campus and a revered figure among students and faculty alike—and is now planning his retirement for October.
Perry explains that, though he is retiring from CHS, he does not see it as a retirement from working as a whole.
“I have never retired from something,” Perry says. “I have always retired to something. I’m always looking for the next challenge.”
Having worked a music producer for nearly 30 years before his time at CHS, Perry refers to his work on the campus as a retirement job, one that he would end up doing for nearly two decades.
In working for 17 years, Perry remarks that his work has never become stagnant or boring, citing CHS students as a primary reason that he returns to the school every year. Indeed, students have come to know Don as one of the friendliest adults on campus and as a source of both guidance and humor.
“I remember last year when I was a shy freshman he would always make me laugh and go outside of my comfort zone,” sophomore Hanna Giannini explains. “He always makes me laugh every time I see him.”
Perry, who stands at the crosswalk as students exit the school, can often be seen exchanging friendly interactions with students.
“He is one of the best men I’ve known at CHS,” junior Marcus Lo adds.
The supervisor explains that his sense of humor has followed him throughout his time at the school, serving as a point at which he can relate with students, going on to note that the most difficult aspect of his retirement will be saying goodbye to the students.
“Don has a unique way of diffusing situations with his sense of humor,” remarks assistant principal Craig Tuana, going on to note his commitment to the students at CHS.
“The people at the school are what have kept me here,” says Perry, explaining that working as a campus security officer has been the best job he could have had.
With the publication of his debut memoir “Don Perry Produces the Music,” Perry reveals that he intends to shift his focus toward writing, with a surplus of book ideas already in mind. The first book, which originated as blog entries he wrote for his son, gets into Perry’s life as a music producer.
“I initially wrote an article called ‘The History of Rock and Roll: A First-Hand Account.’” Perry laughs. “The ideas spiraled from there.”
Perry explains that he expects to work on more books through his retirement, continuing to write on his website, donperry.net, and hoping to turn more blog entries that he’s written in the past into books.
With the establishment of his own website, Perry plans to keep busy and potentially explore new opportunities in the music business.
Don Perry will spend his last day as a campus supervisor on the CHS campus on Oct. 15.
I grew up in a time when a kid could lie on his back on the grass, look up at the sky and dream about what his life could be. Orison Swett Marden said, “All men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers.” I don’t claim to have achieved great things, but I am guilty of being a great dreamer.
I left home nearly 55 years ago to follow those dreams. It’s been an incredible ride and, like a book full of fascinating chapters or a journey with exciting detours off the main road, it has led me here. This chapter ends for me on October 15th when I leave Carmel High and get back on the road to my next dream.
I lived my first dream for 30 years in the music business. Not many people can get up in the morning looking forward to doing what they love…something they would do for nothing if they could. When that was over I started my “retirement” job at CHS. I only intended to be here four or five years. That somehow stretched to 17.
You and the students that came before you made it an amazing 17-year detour. I have been able to see the future unfold…wide-eyed freshmen becoming young adults, going out in the world hoping to make a difference.
As you know, I wear sunglasses every day. I’d like to leave you with a letter I wrote to a student who asked me what I saw behind those glasses:
A farewell letter from Don Perry
These glasses have shielded my eyes over the years from the sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow (ok, maybe I went a little overboard with the snow!)…but never from the truth. When you look at these glasses, I hope you’ll remember the truth as I have seen it.
Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” He did pretty well with that philosophy. The truth is we haven’t given your generation much time to dream. Take the time.
We haven’t asked your generation, “What is it you want to do?” Ask yourself…and then do it.
Worst of all, we’ve pressured you way too soon to shoulder the burdens of the future. The truth is, we can’t control the future years, months or days…but we can control the moment. Enjoy each of those moments. Live life fully and love and embrace everything and everyone that makes our time so special on this earth.
Finally, remember that your mind may play tricks on you…your heart never will. Follow your heart.
I know the world will be a better place because of you. I know because you have made my world immeasurably better. The glasses told me so.