For Kathy Blakely, it's the students who make her day at CHS

California High School Principal's Secretary Kathy Blakeley has been at the high school for 13 years now, and says the students make her job fulfulling.

California High School Principal's Secretary Kathy Blakeley has been at the high school for 13 years now, and says the students make her job fulfulling. Photo by April Arnett.

When it comes to her job as the California High School Principal's Secretary, Kathy Blakely said it is the students who make the difference for her each day.

"I have close relationships with many of the kids," she said. "Some I've watched grow up since they were kindergarteners!"

Kathy, 54, has been at her position at the high school for 13 years now, and admits, "I don't think of it as a job. I love what I do and the students are a big part of it."

Kathy recalled a CHS volleyball game she attended. "A player's mother asked me which was my child out there playing. I told her I didn't have a child playing, but that I consider all of the California kids my children."

Kathy said she's worked for seven principals over the years, and has seen a lot of changes over the years. One constant, however, is the students.

"The most fulfilling part of my job is anything that has to do with the kids. When I go to a CHS musical or play, or a sporting event, and see the talent these kids have, to see them out of their element, I'm just as proud as if they were my own children. And I think it means something to the students, knowing we're in the stands cheering. It matters to them."

Kathy said she also cherishes the close bonds she has with many faculty members and administrators. "We're like a big family here at CHS."

Originally from Kansas City, Kathy, her husband Winston "Win" and their son CJ, now 25, moved to California in 1999, after Win's retirement, to be closer to Kathy's family. Kathy's father lived nearby, in Elston, at the time.

"My first school year here, I didn't know anybody, except for the few people I attended middle school with when my family lived in California, my sixth, seventh and half of my eighth grade year," Kathy said. "After a couple of years, It was very rewarding getting to know the kids. It felt good when I would see them and they would say hi to me."

Kathy said it's important to treat each of the students "like they are somebody."

She explained, "If you don't respect kids as people, how can you expect them to respect you?"

Kathy admits it's difficult to know some of the students don't have the best home life. "I do try to be kinder and more sensitive to these kids, to let them know I care and I'm here. Unfortunately, I'm in the office most of the school day and don't get to interact with as many of the students as I would like to."

She added, "I think praise is important. Kids need it."

Kathy believes students shouldn't have to pick between academics and extracurricular activities. "I think doing both make them more well-rounded. They learn team-work and they learn to work as individuals."

A rewarding aspect of Kathy's job, is the frequent visits from CHS graduates.

"I'm always pleasantly surprised when one of our graduates pops in the office to say hi," she said. "There are many who keep in touch after graduation. It's so nice to see how they're doing."

On May 19, Kathy will attend yet another CHS graduation, her 13th.

"When I'm watching the kids walk up to get their diplomas, I just want to hug them," she said through tears. "I've watched the majority of them grow wiser and stronger, some from when they first walked in the front door as freshmen, some even before. It's very emotional, but in a good way."

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