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Fire truck, motorbikes and golf cart replace yellow school bus for departing educators


SALMON RIVER - Longtime teachers don’t retire, they just ride away.

Well, at least that’s how they do it at Harmony Heights Elementary school, where an antique fire truck, a golf cart and a Gold Wing motorcycle were used on Tuesday to ferry off two retiring teachers and the school’s first principal.

“I’m a mess, I’m just a mess,” said Anne Murphy, while shedding happy tears at the surprise celebration in honour of herself, fellow teacher Cathy Boudreau and principal Wanda Vautour.

“Today we were just sort of saying our goodbyes, we thought, we had no idea (of what had been planned),” Murphy said.

For her, the secret plans involved her husband Dave zipping out of the school on a golf cart adorned with trailing pop cans, water bottles and streaming balloons.

For Boudreau, the day’s surprise involved a ride in a 1948 LaFrance, open-concept fire truck, courtesy of the Salmon River Fire Department.

Initially, all three retirees were taken for a spin in the fire truck but what Boudreau didn’t know until a bit later, was that it had been planned as her special treat.

Shortly after dropping off Vautour and Murphy, Boudreau was instructed to hop back into the old pumper so she could be whisked off – wailing siren and all - to the Salmon River fire hall where a host of friends and retired colleagues were waiting to surprise her with their own send off.

“Oh, this has been so special. Really nice to see, especially to see so many old friends and former colleagues,” Boudreau said of the gathering.

But an absolute highlight, she said, was the ride in the old rig.

“It was awesome. I’ve always wanted to go in that fire truck,” Boudreau said. “I’ve felt like I’ve been part of the Salmon River Fire Brigade for 34 years.”

Vautour was equally surprised when her husband Michael and a group of their riding buddies from the Gold Wing Road Riders Assocation roared into the school parking lot.

“I didn’t expect that at all,” Vautour said. “When I left (home) this morning I had a dress on and then when I came into the office (after the fire truck ride) all my (riding) gear was sitting here. They said ‘you need to get changed.’ I’m thinking what?”

All three women – who collectively have racked up a total of 100 teaching years - said the day was filled with mixed emotions. But as much as they will miss not heading back to school next September, each said they are also looking forward to the next chapter in their lives.

“This was kind of my dream, to open a new school and I did that (when Harmony Heights opened in 2008) and I’ve been really, really happy with the result and working with the wonderful staff,” Vautour said.

“As I thought about it more I decided I didn’t need to go to the magical number of 35 (teacher/principal years),” she said. “And I think it’s time for me to think about things for me.”

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @tdnharry

Fast facts:

Wanda Vautour:

Served as principal for 23 years, including first principal at Harmony Heights Elementary;

- Other postings included Salmon River elementary, Bible Hill central elementary and East Stewiacke elementary;

- Total service, 34 years plus one year as a substitute.

 

Cathy Boudreau;

    - Teacher at Harmony Heights since 2008;

-      previous postings include North River elementary, Maple Leaf elementary (one of the last two teachers when in closed in 1998) and Salmon River elementary;

-      Total teaching time - 31 years full time and four half years in a time-shared position.

 

Anne Murphy:

-      Teacher at Harmony Heights Elementary School since it opened in 2008;

-      Prior teaching assignments included Kings County, Debert elementary, St. Mary’s elementary, Douglas Street elementary and Alice Street elementary. Total 34 years (including some half-year shared teaching time).

 

Well, at least that’s how they do it at Harmony Heights Elementary school, where an antique fire truck, a golf cart and a Gold Wing motorcycle were used on Tuesday to ferry off two retiring teachers and the school’s first principal.

“I’m a mess, I’m just a mess,” said Anne Murphy, while shedding happy tears at the surprise celebration in honour of herself, fellow teacher Cathy Boudreau and principal Wanda Vautour.

“Today we were just sort of saying our goodbyes, we thought, we had no idea (of what had been planned),” Murphy said.

For her, the secret plans involved her husband Dave zipping out of the school on a golf cart adorned with trailing pop cans, water bottles and streaming balloons.

For Boudreau, the day’s surprise involved a ride in a 1948 LaFrance, open-concept fire truck, courtesy of the Salmon River Fire Department.

Initially, all three retirees were taken for a spin in the fire truck but what Boudreau didn’t know until a bit later, was that it had been planned as her special treat.

Shortly after dropping off Vautour and Murphy, Boudreau was instructed to hop back into the old pumper so she could be whisked off – wailing siren and all - to the Salmon River fire hall where a host of friends and retired colleagues were waiting to surprise her with their own send off.

“Oh, this has been so special. Really nice to see, especially to see so many old friends and former colleagues,” Boudreau said of the gathering.

But an absolute highlight, she said, was the ride in the old rig.

“It was awesome. I’ve always wanted to go in that fire truck,” Boudreau said. “I’ve felt like I’ve been part of the Salmon River Fire Brigade for 34 years.”

Vautour was equally surprised when her husband Michael and a group of their riding buddies from the Gold Wing Road Riders Assocation roared into the school parking lot.

“I didn’t expect that at all,” Vautour said. “When I left (home) this morning I had a dress on and then when I came into the office (after the fire truck ride) all my (riding) gear was sitting here. They said ‘you need to get changed.’ I’m thinking what?”

All three women – who collectively have racked up a total of 100 teaching years - said the day was filled with mixed emotions. But as much as they will miss not heading back to school next September, each said they are also looking forward to the next chapter in their lives.

“This was kind of my dream, to open a new school and I did that (when Harmony Heights opened in 2008) and I’ve been really, really happy with the result and working with the wonderful staff,” Vautour said.

“As I thought about it more I decided I didn’t need to go to the magical number of 35 (teacher/principal years),” she said. “And I think it’s time for me to think about things for me.”

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @tdnharry

Fast facts:

Wanda Vautour:

Served as principal for 23 years, including first principal at Harmony Heights Elementary;

- Other postings included Salmon River elementary, Bible Hill central elementary and East Stewiacke elementary;

- Total service, 34 years plus one year as a substitute.

 

Cathy Boudreau;

    - Teacher at Harmony Heights since 2008;

-      previous postings include North River elementary, Maple Leaf elementary (one of the last two teachers when in closed in 1998) and Salmon River elementary;

-      Total teaching time - 31 years full time and four half years in a time-shared position.

 

Anne Murphy:

-      Teacher at Harmony Heights Elementary School since it opened in 2008;

-      Prior teaching assignments included Kings County, Debert elementary, St. Mary’s elementary, Douglas Street elementary and Alice Street elementary. Total 34 years (including some half-year shared teaching time).

 

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