Unsung Heroes: Secretaries at LHS

Unsung Heroes: Secretaries at LHS
Secretaries dress as students for Spirit Week on Student/Staff Flip Day. From left to right: Julie Trembley, Karen Thacker, Lisa Kiely, Jenny Zabawa, Marsha Munger.

By Laura Tharnish –

We see people everyday who have kept Lincoln High School going for over 100 years, and it’s time to show our appreciation. The counselors, nutrition specialists, custodians, secretaries, and security entrance monitors among many others at Lincoln High contribute every day to the success of students. Learning more about the people that make our school a cohesive learning environment should be important to all of us.

The next time you see a custodian clean up a spill have a quick chat with them. When your counselors manage to squeeze you in on short notice, thank them for their time. There are so many ways to show our appreciation to the staff at Lincoln High School. Just try one and see where it gets you. However, when you only have six minutes to get from south building third floor to main building third floor, it may not seem like the right time to stop and chat, especially when an administrator is giving you the ‘you’ve got less than a minute to get to class’ look.

But maybe knowing more about the staff will make it easier to communicate our thanks. For this story I focused on our school’s secretaries. Karen Thacker and Julie Trembley sat down with me to discuss their favorite experiences at Lincoln High School, and they talked about their interactions with the students, staff, and parents at LHS.

I learned a lot about the secretaries and had so much fun interviewing Thacker and Trembley. I found out that Thacker has been working at Lincoln High for seven years and Trembley has worked at Lincoln High for four years. We discussed if they think they get along well with parents and Thacker said, “It’s hard with the parents because they’ll call in and I know bits and pieces, and then I get a little attached.”

Above: Halloween with clerical staff at the High. Left: Julie Trembley, Right: Karen Thacker.

I realized once I began talking with Thacker and Trembley that being secretaries at Lincoln High didn’t just involve the average duties, it included making a student’s day, pranking a coworker, calming a parent, and loving LHS like a second home. I asked Trembley and Thacker if they had any stories that they wanted to share about the students, staff, or teachers at LHS. I was not disappointed.

Thacker described for me a particularly focused student who just had to make a phone call: “A female got suspended. She just was never in class, always coming in using the phone staying on the phone. She got kinda banned from the phone.” Meanwhile Thacker is acting out the scene for me and Trembley around the table, as she kneels down on the floor she continues. “We’re sitting at our desk and all of the sudden we see this (Thacker acts out crawling on the floor and reaching up to grab the phone and dial the number) like we wouldn’t be able to hear her … we’re sitting there and all of a sudden we see this hand coming up.”
Thacker also told me of a time when secretary Jeff Bargar may or may not have locked her in the rest room. Not to mention the time when she thought she was being attacked by a mouse- it turned out to be a sticky pad.

We can’t forget Trembley, however, who seems to be the biggest prankster of all the secretaries. When Thacker finished telling her story, Trembley piped in. “I like to mess with people like that.” I asked if she played pranks on people and she said, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Well John Heineman, I thought it was a great idea to put balloons and streamers in his office, but apparently the IB kids had the same idea, and they had a whole lot more balloons. I tee peed his whole office. Rhere were some fake rats that I put in drawers and cupboards and then I had a bunch of balloons – not near enough to fill.” Thacker and Trembley went on to describe numerous scenes where Trembley scared people with fake cockroaches, and sneaking up behind them. She even snuck between a mini fridge and a filing cabinet to scare someone.

Above: John Heineman’s room after Julie Trembley decorated it.

Trembley commented, “I will say I send transcripts for all seniors and stuff, and so what’s really nice is occasionally I’ll get a thank you letter after a scholarship was received… just because they’re like, ‘I know you really helped,’ and so that feels good.”

Thacker explained, “We get runaway parents calling up asking, ‘Is my child in school?’, ‘Is my student in school?’ They’re really upset and crying and they just need somebody to talk to. And if we say you’re not in the boat alone, (1,900 kids), we have a lot in this situation. Just so they know they’re not alone, I really think it helps a lot. It’s hard, because there’s so many kids in here and there’s so many kids with so many different needs. Nobody knows. I don’t even know a lot of the time. You’ll find out, oh this person’s parent is dying or their brother just got locked up or whatever and it’s terrible.”

When I asked if they had anything they wanted to add Thacker replied, “All the secretaries we really work as a team. This is my family. I’ve got one sister here and that’s the end of my family… I come in for my clerical connections, my clerical family, and for the students… I’ve been working all this time, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a day where I didn’t want to come to work, even on club days.” Trembley interjected with a chuckle “ I don’t know, the start of a new semester is really tough down in the counseling center.”

Thacker replied: “I think we all pretty much are on the same page. We’re all close knit, and we all get along really well. If one falls we got the whole team to pick them up. Oh God, I’m going to start crying.”

So that is just a slice of what my interview with Thacker and Trembley was like. I had so much fun interviewing them, and I got a good idea of what their average work day was like. They work hard, have funny interactions with coworkers, and bring smiles to the faces of students. I hope that you give all the secretaries credit for their hard work. We hope to continue this segment with the other departments at LHS. Thank you to everyone who keeps Lincoln High running.

Above (Back row left to right): Jenny Zabawa, Lisa Kiely, Marsha Munger, Nancy Willemsen. Karen Thacker, Kim Loth, Susan Haller at Pinnacle Bank Arena listen to Manny Scott, a motivational speaker who is one of the original Freedom Writers. Front row left to right: Janet Leick, Julie Trembley and Jeff Bargar.

Laura Tharnish
Laura Tharnish
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