A slew of smiling people in gold coats interrupted Upper Arlington High School Principal Kip Greenhill's coffee break last week, waiting in the hallway with a golden apple, balloons and a giant Hershey's kiss.

A slew of smiling people in gold coats interrupted Upper Arlington High School Principal Kip Greenhill's coffee break last week, waiting in the hallway with a golden apple, balloons and a giant Hershey's kiss.

Greenhill's distinguished grey eyebrows rose in surprise as he walked out of the break room into a bright camera flash, a crowd of teachers and the Upper Arlington Civic Association (UACA) Golden Apple brigade on April 19.

"This year, we received over 200 nominations for outstanding teachers and administrators," said Brian Burcham, co-chair of the Golden Apple committee. "We picked out the most deserving of the Golden Apple award and Kip Greenhill was one of those most deserving."

Burcham read two of the nomination letters that praised Greenhill.

"There is a real understanding about human needs, grief, fear and struggle in Mr. Greenhill," one said. "I will miss his leadership, his reasonableness and his incredible sense of commitment to students and their well-being. He is a model teacher and administrator."

Another writer called Greenhill, "the most amazing administrator I have ever met."

"While the news is full of educational leaders who are constantly looking for ways to find fault with students, he looks for the best in these young learners," the letter stated.

Burcham handed Greenhill a plaque with a golden apple sculpture and the crowd applauded as Greenhill turned and looked around at his colleagues.

"I have been blessed to work with all of these people," Greenhill said. "This award means so much. It means more than I can say right now. Thank you."

Greenhill is retiring at the end of the school year, after 17 years as principal of Upper Arlington High School and 39 years as an educator.

Before coming to Upper Arlington, he was principal at Bexley High School for nine years.

Greenhill's first teaching position was at Strongsville High School after earning his bachelor's degree at Baldwin-Wallace College. He earned a master's degree at Kent State University and took on his first principal position at a junior high school in Fremont.

With his 17-year tenure, he may be the most senior principal in Franklin County, he said.

"I'm really taken back by this award," he said. "I've got a great assistant principal and faculty second to none and a community support system that is the best in the state. There is no way you could not be successful with the kind of support you get in this school district."

Greenhill said he is most proud of the school climate he has helped to encourage.

"The climate here is very orderly but relaxed, without the need for a lot of rule enforcement," he said. "We have wonderful students here. I got on the PA system yesterday, to let the whole school know I received a call from someone at Giant Eagle, to tell me how impressed they were with some of our students who had helped an elderly woman with her car when it broke down in the parking lot.

"These are the kind of students we have," he said.

He is also proud of the school's excellent academic performance.

Greenhill said enrollment in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes has increased dramatically. He said 84 percent of his students are taking at least one AP or IB course.

He said the school's SAT reading and writing scores, as well as four of the five ACT scores, have set all-time school record highs for two years in a row.

Greenhill said the high school allows students to have "a college campus experience."

UACA representative Lori Trent said nominations for the award are accepted each spring, then reviewed by the UACA directors. The awards are presented by the end of April.

She said Greenhill's nominations were "impressive."

"We loved how people said he embraces the individuality of students and how he has great relationships with the teachers as well," she said.