The Forest City Community School District held its retirement tea May 22, honoring its retirees. From left, front: Sheryl Putz, Scott Bertelsen and Julie Jefson; back: Melanie Westerberg, Kathy Jerome and Sonja Tiedman were honored at the event. Other retirees this year who chose not to be in the event are: Greg Richardson, Debra Cunningham, Deb Honken, Kim Mollehauer and Jan Rauk.

The Forest City Community School District held its retirement tea for its retiring staff members.

This year, the district had 10 retirees: Greg Richardson, a custodian for 45 years; Debra Cunningham, a paraprofessional at the schools for two years; Debra Honken, the high school office secretary for 23 years; Julie Jefson, the assistant business manager for 39 years; Kathy Jerome, the high school secretary for 31 years; Kim Mollenhauer, an elementary teacher for 37 years; Sonja Tiedman, an elementary teacher for 38 years; Scott Bertelsen, the high school English and language arts teacher for 38 years; Jan Rauk, the nurse for 13 years; and Sheryl Putz, a Forest City Middle School teacher for 13 years.

The tea, held on May 22, allowed retirees to speak abut their time at the Forest City schools. The retires were also presented gifts.

Superintendent Darwin Lehmann thanked the retirees on behalf of the district, saying all 11 retirees had served the school district for a combined total of 316 years, ranging from two years to more than 45 years of service.

“Our 11 friends have given their time and talents to the noblest of professions,” Lehmann said. “The impact that they have on students and staff will never truly be realized by others or even themselves.”

Lehmann introduced Jefson, high school principal Ken Baker introduced Jerome and Bertelsen, middle school principal Zach Dillavou introduced Sheryl Putz, and elementary school principal Brad Jones introduced Westerberg and Tiedman. In each introduction, the principals and superintendent touched on what made each retiree so unique in their field and the legacy they’ll be leaving behind in the schools.

Jefson, Jerome, Tiedman, Bertelsen and Putz participated in the retirement tea, talking about their students, what school was like when they first started their careers and what they will (and will not) miss about working at the Forest City schools and with their students.

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Melanie Westerberg, a retiree from last year, also participated in the event as there was no retirement tea last year.

In her speech, she spoke about what life was like a year in retirement, giving this year’s retirees a heads-up on what’s to come and some advice on life in retirement.

“I want to extend all of my excitement to those of you who are retiring, like Scott [Bertelsen], who are not quite sure what you’re going to do – I promise you, you will fill the time,” Westerberg said.

Murray Anderson opened the tea, congratulating the retirees, followed by Bruce Mielke, the Forest City Community School Board president, who gave a thank you speech to all the retirees. In his speech, he included some stories on how teachers impacted his own life.

“Never underestimate the impact teachers have on our lives,” Mielke said. “…On behalf of the school board, here are these words that have been attributed to Dr. Seuss: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.’”

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