Baldwin schools honor retirees

BALDWIN — Only a few hours after the halls of Baldwin High School — usually filled with students — emptied for the summer, Baldwin Community Schools staff, board of education members, parent-teacher association members and special guests joined together on Monday to celebrate the end of the school year and those staff members who won’t be returning next year.

The second annual End of the Year celebration was held in the Baldwin High School cafeteria Monday night. It featured dinner for the guests in attendance to commemorate the school year’s end, but it also honored the staff members who retired during the school year. This year’s retirees were math teacher Bruce Garlock; art, drama and speech teacher Linda Atwell; paraprofessional Dianne Archie and BHS Interim Principal Troycie Nichols.
“It’s an end of the year celebration/retirement party, and we just want to give our retirees the recognition and respect they deserve,” said Cher Robinson, administrative assistant and event organizer. “We just want people to know how much we appreciate them and value their dedication.” During the event, BCS Superintendent Stiles Simmons awarded each of the retirees an inscribed golden apple to acknowledge their years of service. As each retiree accepted their apple, Simmons shared remembrances about the former staffer. “We think it is important that people who commit their time and their effort and their talent to help our children and help to improve this community, that there should be some sort of special recognition for them,” Simmons said. During the dinner, a slideshow with photos of each of the retirees was played to remember their time at BCS. After dinner, each retiree was awarded a travel chair and other picnic-themed items as a gift. Atwell has worked for the district since 1993. She thought it was nice that the school held the event for her and her fellow retirees. Now that she is retired, she expects to read, paint and become more involved in theater. “(The event was) very thoughtful, and the gifts on top of that were unexpected and the meal was wonderful,” Atwell said. “It took a lot of people, I think, to bring it together like that. ... It was very nice. I appreciated them all being there.” After the presentation of the gifts, the microphone was opened up to allow those in attendance to share memories of the retirees. Colleagues, a spouse and Garlock’s 92-year-old mother were among those who shared personal stories and remembrances of the retirees. Garlock, who also was the 2013 commencement speaker, has worked for the district since 1971. He said he was honored to hear the stories people recalled about him during the night and he plans to spend his retirement traveling with his wife. “(Retirement) is bittersweet,” Garlock said. “I enjoyed my career there very much, but I am looking forward to retirement. I miss the kids, I miss the staff, but I’m looking forward to retirement.” Archie, who joined the staff in 2000, also said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family during her retirement. She enjoyed herself during the event, but she too will miss everyone in the district, she said. “(The event) is extremely nice,” Archie said. “I can’t put it into words enough how nice it was and how surprising.”