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School Janitor, 83, Moved to Tears as Students Throw Him Surprise Retirement Party

People logo People 5/23/2019 Helen Murphy
a group of people around each other: School Janitor, 83, Moved to Tears as Students Throw Him Surprise Retirement Party © Provided by TIME Inc. School Janitor, 83, Moved to Tears as Students Throw Him Surprise Retirement Party

John Lockett, a beloved janitor at Sand Hill Elementary School in Carrollton, Georgia, got a sweet sendoff last week.

The staff and the 685 students at the school surprised Lockett, lovingly nicknamed “Mr. John,” with a retirement party where he was given a cape and a crown and told it was “Mr. John Day,” according to Good Morning America

Lockett, 83, had been a janitor for over 10 years after previously working in the construction industry. His official last day at the school is Friday, but the school threw him the party a week earlier.

“He was so surprised that he just cried with the kids,” Sand Hill Elementary School principal Carla Meigs told GMA. “It was so sweet. He is a very humble, hardworking, just dedicated to the job. He is as good as they come.”

RELATED: Man Graduates with Nursing Degree from University Where He Was Once a Janitor: ‘I Never Gave Up’

a group of people standing in a room: John Lockett | Sand Hill Elementary School © Provided by TIME Inc. John Lockett | Sand Hill Elementary School

Lockett’s wife of 25 years, Annie Lockett, helped plan the surprise, GMA reported.

In photos and videos of the surprise party obtained by GMA, Lockett is visibly emotional as he wears his crown and cape through the school.

“It was the perfect day to celebrate him and make it about him,” Meigs said.

For his part, Lockett told GMA that he’s looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren after retirement.

“This school means so much to me,” he told the outlet, adding that he “loves the kids.”

Lockett continued: “I really love my job, it is for the kids.”

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