WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The second annual Pride Day celebration at a D.C. high school takes a surprising turn.

Linh Bui reports it all started with a big announcement.

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Kids gathered at Woodrow Wilson High School for their tolerance event called Pride Day, when 50-year-old principal and former football player Pete Cahall, reportedly physically shaking, came out publicly for the first time as a gay man.

Moments later, Cahall joined a surprised Mayor Vincent Gray, who congratulated him. Cahall explained why he made the big announcement.

“I just turned 50 a couple of weeks ago and it’s just something I’m tired of hiding,” he said.

Students, some stunned by the announcement, expressed support.

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“He’s a role model for our school and he’s a role model for our community,” said one student.

“I think that’s just an awesome feat to have a principal that is pretty much a same member of the community as you are in,” another said.

“The most important factor was how could I be a principal leading a gay pride day of high school kids and telling kids it’s OK to be yourself and not be myself?” said Cahall.

Students at Wilson started Pride Day last year. The event has spread to other high schools in the district, which put the school in the crosshairs of anti-gay protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, who claim they’ll be at Wilson to picket Monday.

If the Westboro Baptist protesters show up, they’ll come face-to-face with students at the school, who have already organized an event on Facebook.

If that happens, more than 1,000 students at Woodrow Wilson High School have pledged to show up.

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Linh Bui