Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Longtime secretary retiring

September 29, 2005

In 1966, Joyce McMillen was a senior at Basehor High School who dreamt of one day owning a candy-apple red Corvette. On Friday, almost five decades later, McMillen will hear the final bell and be dismissed from the school.

And she'll exit in style, riding shotgun in her new 1977 Corvette.

McMillen, a high school alumnus, has worked as the bookkeeper and principal's secretary at BLHS for the past 25 years. Friday will mark her last day at the high school and the first day of her retirement.

Later that night, McMillen will grace the high school's homecoming parade by serving as grand marshal. She and her husband, Joe, will travel the parade route in Joyce's new car, which was a birthday/retirement gift given last week by her husband.

"That has always been my dream," McMillen said of owning the shiny Corvette, "and I just couldn't believe that he got me one."

Friday will be bittersweet for McMillen.

"You could say it's kind of like I'm finally getting to graduate," McMillen said. She added, "I've got mixed emotions. I'm kind of dreading Friday. ... I just don't want to say goodbye."

Many of her colleagues at the high school don't want her to say goodbye, either.

"She's been a tremendous help to me," BLHS principal Steve Blankenship said. "I wish she wasn't retiring because I know how much we'll all miss her."

Blankenship, in his third year at the high school, credits McMillen with helping him getting his feet wet in a new school and community.

"She really did a great job of keeping me on track and she gave me a lot of information and kept me out of trouble," he added.

Athletic director Joe Keeler echoed similar sentiments regarding McMillen.

"It's been a pleasant experience to work with Joyce over the years," Keeler said. "She's been an asset to the school and the community."

Although comments from Blankenship and Keeler are similar to those of many BLHS faculty members, none will miss McMillen more than Athie Neas. Neas, the attendance clerk and assistant principal's secretary, has been McMillen's running mate in the high school's front office for more than 20 years.

"It's like a part of me is going to be missing," Neas said. "We've been working together for so long, it's like two people as one. ... It's going to be hard that she's gone, but we're not saying goodbye, it's just see you later."

McMillen said working with the quality of people that have come and gone throughout the years has made it impossible to leave BLHS.

"The kids, the administrators, I've really worked with a lot of nice people over the years," she said.

McMillen said some of her fondest memories at the high school stem from her time spent as sponsor of the cheerleading and dance squads.

"I loved every bit of it," she said. "That was probably the happiest of my 25 years."

The McMillen clan has been coming and going at the high school for years. In addition to Joyce's tenure, two of her children also graduated from the high school, and more family members will be passing through in coming years. Three of Joyce's grandchildren attend schools in Basehor-Linwood and the oldest, grandson Austin Schoepflin, will attend the high school next year.

Joyce said she tenderly rebuffed her grandson's overtures to remain at BLHS, but added that her time with the grandchildren won't be cut short.

She said she looks forward to her retirement years because she'll be allowed to spend more time with the grandchildren, no matter where they go to school.

"You could say I'm trading the big kids in for the little ones," she said.

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