Tony 'José' Perales' farewell deserved after years of service

IMG_3563By Jack McDermott
Online Editor-in-Chief
Sneaking up behind junior Johnny Michael, custodian Tony Perales would put his hands on Michael’s shoulders in an attempt to scare him, only to be greeted with a handshake and a rub on the head for good luck.
Although Tony and the three Micheal triplets did share a special bond, Tony could be seen calling out greetings along the lines of ‘ayy ayy ayy chiquillos’ to students left and right while riding down the hallways in his floor cleaner.  His open personality did not only reach out to students; Associate Principal Scott McDermott also described how a quick greeting from Tony always started the day on the right foot.
“Tony is the first person I see [at Prospect] every morning.  He is here, greeting me with a smile or a high five and he does the same with my kids.  He is definitely someone I count on seeing every time I come [to Prospect],” McDermott said.
This open personality is what will be missed most about Tony since he left for Forest View for a raise, and is also what caused a standing ovation from the entire student and staff body during Tony’s farewell at a pep-assembly last Friday, Dec. 12 (see slideshow, below).   In addition to the send off, students also could take pictures with Tony and write goodbye letters Thursday, Dec. 11 during lunch (see picture, top-right).
Among the hundreds of students that took part, senior Alan Valdez made sure to include his voice in the farewells and thank-yous after Tony made so many of his days by giving him a good laugh.
“I’m always serving detentions so I’m always helping him out and he was always cracking jokes and making it fun,” Valdez said.
Perhaps the most impressive part about Tony’s friendliness is that it is completely genuine.  Tony could go through his days with his head down and not say a single ‘what’s up’ and it would have no affect on his job, and yet Tony took on the second job of making everyone around him happier without ever cashing in a second paycheck.
“Any time that you see Tony interacting with kids, that is going above and beyond his job description.  Tony is a yes guy, an ‘I will get it done for you’ type of guy.  He wants to make sure that when he comes here he has had an impact on kids outside of his duties of cleaning and keeping the building straight,” McDermott said.  “I’ve been [working at Prospect] for 20 years and I have never seen anyone like Tony before,  I would say it’s pretty rare [to see someone willing to do so much more than is asked of them].”
However, Tony believes the students are the ones that should be thanked for all the memories they have given him.
“I worked 22 years in this district and the five years I have spent here have been the best five years of my life. I’m serious.  I have made a lot of friends here and I feel very accepted,” Tony said.
Although Tony might be right, it cannot be ignored how much of an impact Tony has made on Prospect.
“Tony touches as many if not more lives in this building than the teachers do.  He is one of the most recognizable person here and he goes out of his way to make human connections with kids,” McDermott said.
Tony had to leave Prospect, but the effect Prospect has had on him will never leave Tony.
“Everybody is special here, all the students, teachers, coaches, everyone… the whole staff.  It’s the best building in district 214,” Tony said.
To see what students thought of Tony, click here!