Karen O’Reilly cuts into her retirement cake during a celebration with colleagues held at Lockview High on Sept. 29. She retired after 18 years at the Fall River school. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: When Lockview High in Fall River opened 18 years ago, Karen O’Reilly was among the first staff members through the doors—even before it officially opened.

Now as O’Reilly said goodbye as the friendly assistant administrator students, parents and visitors at the Fall River-based school were greeted by in the office, she looked back fondly on the past 40 years—26 of those years with HRSB.

“I will miss the constant whirl of energy in the main office at Lockview,” said O’Reilly on Oct. 1. ” I loved all of the multi-tasking and thrived on the hectic pace.”

Fellow colleagues at Lockview High, as well as those she worked with elsewhere, attended a retirement party held in her honour in the cafetorium—complete with a photo slideshow and cake.

“I have truly enjoyed all of my years at Lockview and have worked with so many great administrators, teachers and support staff,” she said.

She said the biggest change on the admin side of things in the school has been the loss of the third vice principal position which made for a more heavy workload; and then last year’s NSTU battle with the province that created “the new normal”; and this year’s teacher shortage, mostly due to the fact many in the profession have left it.

Why did she chose to retire at the end of September and not last June with the graduated of 2017.

“I did this because I care about Lockview students and staff so much,” said O’Reilly. “I’ve been a part of Lockview from the very beginning and the school will always hold a special place in my heart.”

What is O’Reilly’s best memory from her time working in the school system?

“My fondest memories will always be of how lucky I was to be working in schools doing a job that I have truly enjoyed for the past 26 years,” she said.

She said she has a lot of fun memories from her time at Lockview High, including dressing-up for all of our color days and most especially the annual student & staff Halloween contest, assisting and volunteering with all of the musicals, chaperoning dances and proms, participating in graduations, and most especially, choosing an upbeat Friday (exit) song with a positive message every week.

“In 2008 I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the four chaperones for the Europe trip to Italy, France and Monaco and again in 2016, I co-chaperoned the school trip to Iceland with the well-travelled Fiona McWilliam,” said O’Reilly. “All of these experiences allowed me to connect with the students on a more personal level. That is what I will most remember about Lockview.”

So what’s next for O’Reilly? Her husband will be retiring in January, and travel is on the docket.

“We plan to travel as much as possible and spend more time with our two beautiful grandchildren in Edmonton, so I will be busy planning lots of trips,” she said with a giddy smile. “I’ll be able to keep up with my gym workouts and attend yoga classes in the daytime with Miss Bliss, Sheila Lane, and I will finally have time to join a book club.

“If I get bored with all of that, I would love to be a volunteer DJ at a radio station, get into background acting or write a fictional comedic book (from a former high school secretary’s perspective).”

It sounds like O’Reilly will be just as busy in retirement as she was at Lockview. Congrats and best wishes!