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A Lasting Legacy: Hallandale Beach Principal Carlton Campbell Has Impacted So Many Lives

November 2, 2023

In a city that is 95 years old there are many individuals that have left a lasting mark on our history. Last Wednesday many of us that are involved with the city and our schools received the tragic news that beloved Principal Carlton Campbell had died in a car accident. The news shocked many to their core including me.

There are certain people that are destined to leave a lasting legacy. Teachers are often the people that impact future generations. I believe every one of us can think back to the one teacher that truly connected and made a difference on how we felt and inspired us to become better. They cultivate an environment of learning that sets the stage for future leaders and pioneers.

Back in the 1980’s when Carlton graduated from Hallandale High I am sure his teachers knew he was going to succeed but were not aware that his path would bring him back to pay it forward as principal of the school where it all began.

Hallandale High School set the stage for him to receive a scholarship to Ball University. He then coached football in Wisconsin before coming back to South Florida. I know and it showed through his action and commitment, he always wanted to make sure his students had the same if not better opportunities. I feel blessed that I had the great gift of getting to know Principal Campbell.

When he set out to rebuild the football stadium where he once played I had that chance to see his passion in action. I can vividly recall meeting in the Library at HHS and discussing the future of the school's campus.

Like many eastern schools the facility was built in the 70’s and was slated to be replaced with a new school. That never happened as the state stopped funding replacement schools. The football field was a mess and flooded frequently. So that was the goal.

At that joint public meeting then City Manager R.J. Intindola, Mayor Dorothy Ross, myself and the school board staff set out to lobby for funding. We ended up with a partnership between the School and the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency to build the 800,000 plus field and track.

The agreement included that the facility would be shared with our PAL athletes to play when it was not being used by the school. To this day the partnership still exists.

Principal Campbell created a lasting legacy for HHS. He created an environment that created one of the best statewide football programs. Many students signed up with leading colleges and became NFL Players. It did not stop there. Principal Carlton also created a wonderful drama program and band program and many other programs to create future leaders.

When I heard that rather than retiring Principal Campbell was assigned back to Hallandale Beach to lead Gulfstream K-8 I was thrilled. I knew there were great things in store for the school and especially the students. His plan was to give Hallandale Beach another 5 years.

When I heard the news that he died, I was profoundly saddened on so many levels. I felt pain for his wife, three boys and his entire family. I was saddened to lose a friend and someone that I looked to for his knowledge and ability to address the needs of the school. I was extremely sad for the many students at Gulfstream who he loved as his own. I was also sad for the staff that was just settling in under his great leadership.

As my Dad always said, there are certain mysteries of life. Death cannot be explained, especially so sudden and tragic as this. I had a chance to visit the school last Wednesday to share my condolences. I shared that Principal Carlton was doing what he loved. He was not just a husband, father and brother, he was an amazing educator, mentor and friend. He was and will be remembered as an amazing leader, a Principals Principal.

It is ironic that in his last message to the school posted on Gulfstream’s K-8 website where he was reviewing the opening of school, he ended with this inspirational quote:

Life is so short. We spend so much time sweating the small stuff; worrying, complaining, gossiping, comparing, wishing, wanting, and waiting for something bigger and better instead of focusing on all the simple blessings that surround us every day. Life is so fragile and all it takes is a single moment to change everything you take for granted. Focus on what’s important and be grateful! You are Blessed, Believe it! Live your life and leave no regrets! ~ Melanie M. Koulouris

Rest In Peace Carlton Campbell, you have left a lasting legacy!

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