There is no shortage of admiration for Staples High School Principal John Dodig, who retires at the end of the month, but a Thursday evening reception for the longtime educator also was a time for laughs.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, talking about how he was going to have to take the blame for hiring Dodig when he was a Board of Education member, suggested, “Let’s give the old guy a chance.”

“By the way, John, do you know anything about parks and recreation?” he asked, referring to another open town administrative post.

In addition to the good-natured ribbing, Dodig was also saluted with a series of superlatives for his 11-year tenure at the high school.

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon described Dodig as “fabulous, wonderful, terrific,” while Brian Fagan, a former assistant superintendent, called him “a gift to Staples and Westport.”

“I just think he’s the most caring administrator I’ve ever known,” said Caroline James, a Staples math teacher. “He considers the school to be his family and goes above and beyond.”

“He’s the heart of the building,” said Ann Didelot, another Staples math teacher.

“He’s been a great principal and an even better human being,” said Staples varsity soccer coach Dan Woog. “To me, what a true educator is, is someone who touches people and who makes everyone around him a better person.”

“He has developed relationships with our children,” said Mark Mathias, Board of Education member. “He is not the invisible principal that many of us grew up with.”

“John’s an enabler,” said Wendy Morgan, Staples PTA co-president. “He enables great people to do great things.”

“John has made an enormous contribution to this community,” said Marpe, who called Dodig a true friend. “Staples High School is one of the crown jewels that I always point to and, under John’s leadership, we’ve polished that jewel exquisitely.”