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End of an Era: Paul Retires

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

by Javier Diaz

Picture this. It is the peak days of heat in Miami. The "feels like" temperature routinely passes the 100 Fahrenheit mark. The occasional breeze provides slight relief but most of Christopher Columbus High School's population is inside air-conditioned classrooms and offices. Yet, there is one person outdoors ensuring the community's safety.

Every day for the past few years, there is one constant presence in the Columbus parking lot, working hard and braving the Miami atmosphere: Paul Dibernardo, school security and parking lot supervisor.

After 16 years of long hours and hard work, Paul Dibernardo is retiring and leaving a legacy at Christopher Columbus High School. Many might think that Paul simply was "that parking lot guy," however, he was much more than that.

From the first steps on campus as a freshman, to the senior barbeque before graduating, Paul was always there in charge of making sure that safety was of top priority. Paul consistently arrived bright and early in the morning, and occasionally stayed late to make sure events in the evening went smoothly.

Usually, when there is an official visit, the first impression is crucial to ensure a successful meeting. Paul was always at the forefront of the school, and with his good attitude and respectful remarks, he time and time again left a good impression on visitors.

"He is truly a standup guy", said Mr. Trujillo, dean of students and defensive coordinator for the esteemed Columbus football team.

While Paul was always welcoming and respectful, he also had to ensure things were going as planned. If people parked where they were not supposed to and disrupted the campus, he was on top of it to make sure that the problem was fixed as soon as possible.

Another thing about Paul: he would do whatever it takes to make sure the school is taken care of. Principal Pugh lauded his protective attitude.

"No one should get on his wrong side - he will always defend the school," Mr. Pugh said.

Something many people might not know is that Paul spent a significant amount of time working on campus while being sick. There were some days when he even felt nauseous, and after being asked to come inside to cool off, he would refuse in order to stay at his post. At one point, he had to have a surgical procedure and had to stay off campus to rest. Most people would take weeks off work to rest, but not Paul. He returned only after a few short days as he felt it was his duty.

From a student perspective, every day he would be in the parking lot ready to greet everyone with a smile. Paul would arrive as early as 4:15am ready to work. Most people admit that even though they saw him every day, they were not able to notice that he was sick, as he always maintained a strong level of professionalism, enthusiasm and perseverance in accomplishing his job.

An infamous story about Paul was that he was actually a really respected athlete back in high school. When he used to attend Coral Park, he played on the football team as a wide receiver.

As Dean of Students and Columbus Athletic Director Mr. McKeon said, he used to be called "The Ghost of Coral Park" because of the way he evaded his opponents and was hard to guard.

In a way, his nickname from high school football days could represent his career at Columbus. Many did not see Paul for what he was. A lot of people believed that he had a simple job. But the school needed Paul's presence and dedication.

Paul was one of the most dedicated and hard-working members of the staff for the last 16 years.

He represents what Columbus is about: dedication and presence.

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1 Comment

John Train
John Train
Aug 23, 2023

Senior BBQ for class of 2021 (first photo was that day) was for Pauls birthday. That's me on the right side of the photo. Pauls Birthday tailgate was Complete with 2 birthday cakes and a song. He was so touched he got emotional. I was glad to have brought even a little bit or recognition to him and his importance to the school that day.

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