Now former board President Keith Petrus announced recently that he would be leaving the board and retiring to Port Aransas.
Petrus is not one to offer praise upon himself.
In fact, sitting there in the cafeteria Monday during a farewell ceremony, he squirmed frequently in his seat as friends said their goodbyes and offered their best wishes and praise.
Lining the walls of the high school and cafeteria are historic photos of the district — now designated the Keith Petrus Walk of History.
During that ceremony, Superintendent Dr. Brett Belmarez praised Petrus for his work on the board and as president.
Only two years after he joined, the district received its exemplary rating.
“Since then this school district has been rated exemplary,” Belmarez said. “Mr. Petrus is going to tell you he had nothing to do with that.
“But as most of you know, it takes a whole system going down to the smallest desk we have and starting at the top chair at our government’s table.”
Belmarez gave credit to Petrus as being instrumental in getting not only the new elementary school built but also bonds and tax ratifications passed.
“We have a brand new fabulous elementary school up on the hill,” Belmarez said. “Mr. Petrus presided and was the main straw that stirred that drink.
“Also during that time the school district successfully called and passed a tax ratification election and two bond elections.”
Belmarez paused a moment in his speech as he reflected back on a piece of wisdom passed onto him.
“It’s not the thing that Mr. Petrus did sitting at that table,” Belmarez said. “It is what he did not do.
“Rule 1 — do no harm.
“I have interacted with a lot of board members and had many as personal friends. There are none better and that do the job instinctively based upon what he did not do.
“You are going to be heavily missed.”
Robin Thomas, business manager, said, “I have great respect for what you have done.
“You cannot be replaced.
“We appreciate everything you have done for this district and these kids — for all kids.”
Patty Holubec, former principal at the high school, reminded that it wasn’t just the school board that Petrus has influenced.
“Thank you so much for your work on the water board,” she said. “It is incredible you don’t have to have a well in Skidmore anymore.”
Carol Dubois said that Petrus was also an important part of the museum just across the highway.
“I want to thank Keith for all the work he did for the museum,” she said. “He has promised he is going to keep doing that. We could not make it without him.”
David DuBose, having known Petrus for many years, had a unique perspective and many a memory to share.
“Twenty-three years ago we started school over in what is now a parking lot,” he said.
“On the first day of school, his dad told him to go to school and when that bell rings, you just run like heck all the way back home.”
So he did.
“It was the lunch bell.”
He admitted that Petrus never did seem like the type that would run for school board.
“I say this with love and respect but if you asked me to rank in order the people in our class most likely to be school board president, you would have been last.
“You were always such a creative free spirit and school board work is tedious work.”
All jesting aside, he praised Petrus and clapped the loudest as the plaque designating the Keith Petrus Walk of History was unveiled.