CHARDON, Ohio -- Chardon Local Schools held an open house reception for retiring Superintendent Joe Bergant Monday night.
Bergant was supposed to retire last year but decided to stay after the shooting at the high school, Feb. 27, 2012.
"I just couldn't leave them behind. I made the decision along with my wife and a few other people that I respect to stay another year," said Bergant.
It's a decision that has gained the respect of parents, students and the district.
"Chardon means something to him. He brought the community together during a really rough time," said Kelly Murphy, a principal.
As Chardon High School strives for a new normal, students still remember Danny Parmertor, Demetrius Hewlin and Russell King, Jr. They were killed in last year's massacre.
The shooter, T.J. Lane, was sentenced to life in prison this past March. He wore a white T-shirt that said "killer" and used profane language during his sentencing. Bergant had this to say about his antics:
"Just appalled. That's all I can really say. I've always had empathy for every human whether they make good choices or bad choices. But that certainly took everything out. As for as that individual, I have no particular use for that person at this time," said Bergant.
Bergant's last day on the job is June 7.
He will pass the baton to Dr. Michael Hanlon, who will take over for him August 1.
"Even through bad times, you have to step up to the plate. That's what superintendents do. They step up to the plate. You have to be a good leader," said Bergant.