Violin music wafted through the Upper Arlington Board of Education meeting room Monday night as high school students serenaded outgoing school board members Robert Arkin and Marge Pizzuti.
The Dec. 9 meeting was Arkin and Pizzuti's last as board members, since both opted not to run for re-election in November. Both have served on the board for 12 years.
Newly elected members Carol Mohr and Matt McClellan will be sworn in at the board's January meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Central Office, 1950 North Mallway Drive.
The music brought both Arkin and Pizzuti to tears as they thanked the students and orchestra director Ed Zunic.
Treasurer Andy Geistfeld presented the two with crystal plaques.
"I can't believe this is your last school board meeting," he said. "Personally, it has been a pleasure to watch the way you have kept your focus on the kids through all your years. Both of you have been great examples of service before self."
Board member Stacy Royer said the orchestra serenade was coordinated by board member Robin Comfort.
"I don't think I can top the orchestra," Royer said. "We could talk about your leadership and the fact you have both been role models, but it is your service to the community that I will remember best."
Board member Nancy Drees told Arkin and Pizzuti no one deserves a rest more than they do.
"I will miss your wide experience, your devotion and effort," she added.
Comfort was almost too choked up to speak.
"You have been wonderful leaders and remarkable teachers," she said. "You can tell yourselves it was a job well done."
Superintendent Paul Imhoff said the school community "can't thank you enough" for the past 12 years.
"Margie, I love your passion for communication and the process you always found to make things better," he said. "And Bob, I love your sense of humor and you were a great counselor during my transition as a new superintendent."
Pizzuti said she has felt blessed to be a part of the school community.
"This has been quite a journey and it has been extraordinary," she said. "One of my mentors, Marian Wright Edelman, said it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to lead a school community. She also said 'service is the rent of living' and that has guided my life."
"We have been surrounded by excellence and gifted people," Arkin said."To some extent, we just had to show up to be a part of that excellence. I've gotten as much as I've given and much much more."
In other business Dec. 9, board members approved the purchase of 100 digital hand-held two-way radios from CDG Wireless for $41,000.
Chris Potts, executive director of business services, said the radios "represent best practices" to help ensure school safety. He said they will be given to building principals, nurses and playground aides so key personnel can communicate instantly if they encounter a safety issue.
The district worked with architects and the Upper Arlington Police Department to audit each building, update floor plans and identify the location of fire extinguishers, water shutoffs and other safety equipment, Potts said.
"The floor plans of the buildings will only be accessible to first-responders," he said.