The last day of classes Friday at St. Patrick School in Franklin was bittersweet for all involved as it was also longtime principal Carol Long's final day of work after 50 years as an educator.
"It really is a family here," said Long, who has been the principal at St. Patrick since 1997.
After performing her duties as principal for the last time and handing out awards the students earned for the year, Long took a moment to address the faculty, students and parents assembled.
"St. Patrick is special, so you have to keep it going," Long said through tears.
Through sniffles and muted laughter, the much-loved Long gave her audience one last inspiring speech of faith and family that she closed with a prayer from a book of Irish blessings she found in her office just the day before.
"I have a number of prayer books in my office and yesterday when I sat down to find one, of course, it came from a book of Irish prayers," Long said.
Then came a moment that had Long and the audience crying for an entirely different reason.
"She's a huge Bon Jovi fan," said Paula Klinger, a second- and third-grade teacher at St. Patrick who helped organize Long's farewell party.
Appearing from the back of the gymnasium, as if out of nowhere, came the first words of "Livin' on a Prayer" sung in a spot-on impersonation of Jon Bon Jovi himself by St. Patrick kindergarten teacher Joe Lillard.
Long was completely surprised.
As Lillard, who has performed at Taste of Talent, sauntered down the aisle, out came Bon Jovi himself in cardboard cut-out form. The cut-out Bon Jovi was made to dance by Jill Lander, the St. Patrick fourth- and fifth-grade teacher.
"That chorus was going to kill me, I think even (Bon Jovi) takes it down when he sings it live now. But this is your day! We have to go all out," Lillard told Long later.
The Bon Jovi cutout was signed by all the students and faculty.
"I've had a great time trying to explain to the kids who he is," Klinger said.
The message might not have stuck as one parent told Long later that his child told him during the performance that the man pictured was Long's husband.
Long said the cardboard Bon Jovi will reside in her home with her and her real and "supportive" husband, Bill.
Long, who grew up in Oil City and was the oldest of four children of well-known Oil City residents David "Ducky" and Lois Hall, left her students and faculty with one final message: "May your heart be filled with happiness, your home be filled with laughter and may the Holy Trinity bless your life forever after."