By Andy Labdon
With the end of the school year in sight, changes to Wadena Composite School have already taken place.
The simultaneous retirement of five long-serving staff members was recognized in front of a full gymnasium on June 21, where students said goodbye to Cindy Brown Bashutsky, practical and applied arts teacher; Claire Enright, school custodian; Ron Jeannot, vice-principal; Kel Melnyk, social studies teacher, and librarian Donna Zarowny.
“Between them, they have nearly 140 years of service to Wadena Composite school,” said Principal Darin Faubert in his address to the students that afternoon.
The students put on a short light-hearted sketch that highlighted the idiosyncrasies of each teacher after which five students said a few words of thanks and best wishes for the future for their chosen retiree.
Christine Gradin, subdivision representative for Horizon School Division, added her thanks and gratitude for their years of service and presented each with a gift.
Cindy Brown Bashutsky has taught for 28 years and says that retirement will leave her time for travel and learn a new skill – quilting.
Ron Jeannot’s teaching career has spanned 33 years, of which some 27 years have been in Wadena. Retirement for him means starting a new career and getting around to doing a few jobs around the home.
Kel Melnyk retires after 32 years with plans to travel, but will miss the changes he sees in pupils as they mature and learn, become adults, and go on to lead successful lives.
Claire Enright started as a caretaker in 2001 and says she will miss the 4 a.m. mornings when everything was still and quiet.
“I loved the routine and that I will miss,” she said. Enright will still be community hall manager, so she hasn’t permanently retired, just yet.
Donna Zarowny has been around books as the school librarian for the past 28 years and already has her retirement plan mapped out. She plans to alternate her time between the garden and Wadena Museum, indulge in the quiet life, and maybe travel.
One thing in common they all say they will miss is the day-to-day interaction with other members of staff and the students. Or when students come back to visit and catch up, which is where they all see how instrumental they were in forming that student’s life.
They all agreed “That’s just special.”