15, and its time to retire
By DOMINIC FEAIN firstname.lastname@example.org
AFTER 38 years, Ballina High School teacher and 'leapling', Richard (Dick) McCoy, retires today at the grand old age of 15.
Dick was born on February 29, 1948, in a leap year, and although he is 60 years old today, he has only been able to celebrate his birthday on the correct date 15 times in his life.
"My birthdays were always measured in halves and quarters, but it was all good fun," Dick said.
Ballina High principal Ros Mayberry, who has worked with Dick for all of his 26 years at the school, says she will be sad to see him go. "We will miss him, but maybe it's no coincidence that 15 is the regulation school leaving age," she said.
"We've been telling him, 'Dick, you're 15 now and it's time to go'!
"Dick is one of those special teachers who has committed an incredible amount of his own time to his students." Ms Mayberry said the whole school was deeply grateful to Dick and wished him a long and happy retirement.
Dick plans to keep connected to the school, where he has invested so many years, and will be available for casual teaching.
"I know I will miss the company of students and staff, but I am looking forward to relief teaching without all the responsibilities it will be fun," he said.
"The great joy of teaching is in imparting knowledge to the kids and seeing their active young minds soak it all up."
Dick's areas of teaching speciality were music and aeronautical engineering.
He won a Director-General's award for his commitment to music and bands, and is renowned for his contribution to aviation at Ballina High.
In 1996, Dick built a twin-seat Lightwing aircraft with the students' help many of whom have gone on to careers in aviation and secured the donation of a full-sized Airbus flight simulator.
One of the highlights of Dick's career was a music trip to the United States in 1987, with 30 students and their parents.
"We took a dixieland band and a few stage bands to play at Disneyland in California and many other theme parks," he said.
Dick's birth date dilemma has been an endless source of jokes and jibes since childhood and is based on the fact that the Earth completes its revolution of the sun in a smidgen over 365 days 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to be exact.
In order to recalibrate the calendar, a day is added every four years, creating the leap year.