LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Washington Marion High School held a special memorial service in honor of their late principal, Merculus Chretien, Thursday morning at the school's stadium.
Chretien was in his fourth year as principal at Washington Marion High when lost his battle with a long-term illness Saturday, March 6th, at a local hospital.
Students, faculty, family, and community members celebrated the life of Chretien through song, prayer, and poems.
Although Chretien was the top man at Washington Marion, he was never far from the students' hearts.
"We all love him," said Natalie Broussard, an eleventh grader at Washington Marion. "He'd treat you like he was your own child."
Faculty expressed the same compassion for Chretien at Thursday's memorial assembly.
"He was not an overbearing principal," said Jassaland Kelly-Demease, a co-worker of Chretien. "He was good for hugging and for taking care of our students."
The most emotional portion of the program came when each student released a balloon in honor of their late school leader.
"It didn't feel like you were letting go," said Broussard. "It was in remembrance of him and everything he accomplished."
Chretien is originally from the lake area where he graduated from W. O. Boston High School.
He earned a B. S. in Vocational Education from Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1969.
Fred Hardy, a member of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, said that he remembers Chretien from his younger teaching days.
"He taught special education at W. W. Lewis and that probably brought out that good feeling that he has about children," said Hardy.
Not too long after accepting his job at W. W. Lewis, Chretien was already being considered for another post ion.
"They wanted to consider him as a principal and I thought he was a very good guy," said Hardy.
In 1995 Chretien began his first head principal job at John F. Kennedy elementary school.
"That turned out to be a place he loved too because he loved little children," said Hardy.
After serving as principal at John F. Kennedy where he served as principal from 1995-2004, he then moved to Ray D. Molo Middle School where he was the principal from 2004-2007.
Funeral services will be held at Combre Funeral Home with visitation tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m.
The funeral is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.