He has held court at Eastwood for decades, giving coaching advice, marriage counseling, fashion tips, teaching pointers, and most of all, a good, soul-cleansing laugh or two every day to colleagues and students alike. As Eastwood High moves into its 50th year, we will say goodbye to a man who has been a fixture for the last 40 years; Mr. Victor Casas, junior English teacher, will retire at the end of the semester next Friday. Affectionately known to his fellows for years as the Mayor of Second Hall, five years ago he was relocated, rather unceremoniously, to the 300 hall, so now he's just the Mayor. For all or part of five decades, he has amused and entertained and educated young people in his English classes at every level, at one time or another. "What I like best about Mr. Casas, especially since I have him at the end of the day," says junior Alexis Peinado, "is that no matter how bad my day is going, no matter what drama or conflict I've been through, he is going to make me forget it for awhile. He'll make me smile, laugh, or just know that he cares about me."
Other faculty members echo similar sentiments. Ruly Medrano, speech teacher and Eastwood alumnus, says, "Mr. Casas is great for kids; he cares about them as people, on top of caring about their education. There aren't enough good words to describe him."
"Mr. Casas has been a living symbol of all the good things Eastwood is known for," according to soccer coach and social studies teacher David Rosen. "People of his quality are hard to come by."
Even brand new teachers have felt the Mayor's influence. "When I first came here, the first moment I met him, I felt protected and welcome," says second-year speech and debate coach Laura Herrera. "He welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home."
"I'm speechless when I try to talk about Mr. Casas," says Candelaria Monsivais, veteran English teacher. "He has always given me sound, impartial advice, whether I was struggling with curriculum issues or personal issues. He has never hesitated to give me his full attention and help when I needed it."
Himself a veritable permanent fixture at EHS, basketball coach Gary Pippen believes "Victor Casas is a real treasure. He has a true sense of humor and devotion, and has been one of the really, really important people in the history of the school."
"I will feel his absence at lunch time every day," golf coach and English teacher Jon Stovall says. "You never know what he might say, but you can be sure it will be funny. No one makes me choke on my food like he can. I've had to learn to be careful not to take a bite right before the punchline."
Coach Jimmy Ayala says, "Although I know he's got plans for himself and his family and I'm happy about that, it will be hard to see and Eastwood legend finally go."
In his own words, Casas is "excited about having time to spend with my two grandsons and three granddaughters, but I'm also very sad. I've grown up here. I was just 23 years old when I started teaching and now I'm 63. I've spent my entire career here. I've loved it; it's the best place to work-- best high school, best faculty, best students." He adds, "I've taught summer school at most of the other schools in the district, but I always felt better coming back to Eastwood. This is home."
Though Mr. Casas is moving on from Eastwood, his legacy remains; his son Michael, now a social studies teacher and track coach here, will carry on the family business. "My dad has been a teacher and mentor to literally thousands of kids. He was the best man at my wedding; he's my dad and my best friend. He has certainly been the greatest teacher I've ever had."
If laughter is the best medicine, Mr. Casas is not only the Mayor, he's also the physician of Eastwood High School. He'll never know how much he's helped us all get through some tough days.