PLANT CITY Alan Schism's students wanted to thank the veteran Plant City High teacher for all his guidance this school year.
So they threw him a surprise party where they all dressed in his favorite color: plaid. Schism surveyed the wardrobe of the guests at the May 17 celebration and expressed his approval.
"The highest form of flattery is imitation," Schism said, quoting a famous saying. "I really appreciate it."
The party was a way of saying thanks to a teacher who always goes out of his way to help his students, said seniors Kelly Haney and Casey Hamilton, who planned the celebration.
"There's nothing we can ever do to repay him for what he's done," said Hamilton, 17.
Haney, 18, said his help goes beyond the classroom; he gave students his cell phone number before the school prom in case they faced a situation where they needed his help.
"If anyone needs anything, he is always there for them," she said.
Schism, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, started his teaching career in 1986 at Tomlin Junior High, now Tomlin Middle School. He transferred to Plant City High in 1995.
Schism, 50, said he started wearing plaid about 15 years ago and now wears a plaid shirt about four to five days a week. He likes plaid because it is simple, traditional and reflects an earlier time. Also, "it doesn't show stains."
The students brought in food including hamburgers, cake and ice cream.
Before the meal started, Schism thanked his students for the gesture and said it's one of the reason he enjoys teaching.
"I don't look at it as work. I look at it as something that I love to do that they just happen to pay me for," he said.
Guests at the party included his wife Vicki and two of their five daughters: 10-year-old Davin and 8-year-old Sarah, who entertained with a song they wrote for their dad.
Seniors Stephanie Taylor, 17, and Kelsey Brown, 18, said the students were happy to offer the celebration as a token of their appreciation.
"You'll never find a teacher better than him," Taylor said.