A beloved Japanese teacher has reluctantly closed the book on his 57-year career in style with hundreds of students forming a guard of honour to mark his retirement.
Students applauded John Clarke as he stopped to shake hands on his final day at James Sheahan Catholic High School on Friday, November 24.
Year 8 Japanese was his last class.
"I'm fortunate to have had a job for 57 years that I've really liked doing and not many people can say that for more than half a century that they've done a job they like to do," Mr Clarke said.
"The bonus is working beside three of my daughters and now my son-in-law [Craig Randazzo, who teaches HSIE], so when we get together we have to resist talking shop all the time."
Mr Clarke is familiarly called "Sensei" by his students and as he walked through the guard of honour, a recently-released tribute song played in the background.
Renowned country singer Allan Caswell co-wrote All Those Years Ago with his wife Marian (nee Eason) who was a student of Mr Clarke's at Blayney High School when he was fresh out of teachers' college.
James Sheahan Catholic High School principal Peter Meers also congratulated Mr Clarke on his career.
"I was in kindergarten when Sensei started teaching in 1967 and there are Australian's in their 60s who were taught by Mr Clarke right down to students of 12 and 13," Mr Meers said.
"It is just hard to describe the amazing impact that Mr Clarke has had over 57 years, which is just an extraordinary amount of time to be teaching.
The grandfather and father of seven left with his wife of 53 years, Cathy, straight after the ceremony to travel to Japan where he's taken his students on excursions in the past.
"I went once without students but three times with," Mr Clarke said.
This time he is spending two weeks along with some of his family for the three-generation holiday.
The 77-year-old Mr Clarke has been teaching at James Sheahan for the past 34 years where he established the Japanese program and department.
He said the biggest takeaway from his career was "satisfaction".
"The satisfaction of seeing kids learn, particularly the kids who aren't necessarily all that clever and think they can't do it," he said.
"It's so satisfying when you can help a kid do something which they thought they couldn't do, that is the best thing about it."
Mr Clarke grew up in Mudgee before deciding to become a teacher starting his career at Blayney in the 1960s then moving to Orange where he plans to stay.
He's worked at James Sheahan since 1989, Mr Clarke also taught for 11 years at Canobolas Rural Technology High School and before that 11 years at Blayney High School.
He was driven to become a teacher so he could continue to learn and to pass on his knowledge.
"I've always liked to know things, every king and queen of England, all the Formula 1 world champions and all that sort of thing," he said.
Mrs Clarke and daughter Helen Clarke said he was a natural teacher even with his family.
"We couldn't go on a trip without him teaching them on the way, he could tell them every name of every cow that was in the paddock and anything along the way. He just loved it and it just flowed out of him," Mrs Eason said.
He initially taught history, geography, economics, commerce as well as a short stint teaching science before being inspired by two of his daughters to learn and teach Japanese in 1996.
"I have taught year 12 but I have mainly been teaching the year 7s and 8s for the last few years because I love the enthusiasm of those kids," he said.
"They taught Japanese before I did and they helped me so much," he said of two of his daughters Mrs Whiteley and Ms Clarke.
"I can say we are all probably teachers because we've been inspired by him," Mrs Whiteley said.
"He started the department and has taken countless on school trips to Japan as part of our sister-city home-stay program."
"If it wasn't for him there wouldn't be Japanese here," Ms Clarke added.
Although Mrs Clarke was eager for him to retire it was a harder choice for Mr Clarke.
"Almost every day I think 'next year I'm going to ... oh no, I'm not going to do it different next year because I'm not going to be here next year'," Mr Clarke said.
"It's so strange because I started school at six," he said.
He added that he was at school for five days a week, then university for five days a week then teaching five days a week, except this year, which was three days a week and now he's facing no days a week.
Mrs Clarke said she has plenty of plans to help him fill that void.
"I'm going to enjoy staying up until midnight and not having to set the alarm in the morning, that will be lovely," Mr Clarke.
He's also going to cut down the classwork he's accumulated over the year but said he will still keep some of it.