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Graduating into retirement

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School secretary retiring after over 30 years

By Collin Overton

Carole Sue Truman got the surprise of her career at Henry County High School during graduation practice on May 25.

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The longtime secretary of the high school was sitting at the piano, getting ready to rehearse for the last time when principal Shannon Sageser told her to come to the stage.

“He handed me that cap and gown and said ‘Put this on.’ I said ‘What? It’s 90 degrees in here.’”

Regardless, Truman suited up in the white graduation gown and followed Sageser out of the gym. It wasn’t long before she noticed school employees and board members waiting for her as she walked up the ramp to the hallway. As they turned the corner into the halls, she saw crowds of students and other co-workers lining the hallway, cheering and clapping.

 After rounds of applause and hugs, Truman returned to the gym to a standing ovation from seniors and an award for her service to the school. Through tears, she told students she wanted the best for them and encouraged them on beginning new chapters in their lives, much like she was doing. It was a “graduation” into retirement she said she never saw coming.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even thought of something like that myself…”

Since 1986, Truman has been the secretary of Henry County High School. A 1961 graduate of the last class to come out of Pleasureville High School, Truman is a lifetime resident of Henry County.

“I’ve lived in Henry County my whole life,” Truman said. “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live.”

 Before taking the job at the high school, Truman spent two years working at the Henry County Board of Education and two more at Henry County Middle School. Her last year at the high school has been a memorable one.

“It’s kind of fun knowing ‘well, this is my last Christmas I’ll be here’ or ‘this is my last this I’ll be here’ but it’s still just been a fun year,” Truman said.

Perhaps it’s fitting that in her last year, Truman also got to see her youngest grandson graduate. In her 31 years at the high school, Truman has seen her youngest child, Ange Batts, and two other grandchildren, Haley Miles and Alex Miles graduate – all from the view of her keyboard that she played at graduation and baccalaureate ceremonies every year. Truman said her favorite moments at the school have been watching them graduate.

Tyler Truman, the youngest grandson, will attend the University of Kentucky in the fall to study accounting.

“Of course, we’re all UK nuts,” Truman said. One look around her office and this is evident, from the knit blue miniature couch that serves as a Kleenex dispenser to the “IAM-4UK” license plate that sits in the window above her desk.

Though she’s seen thousands of different students come and go, Truman has tried to make a difference in their lives. In a past interview with the Local, Truman said, “I tried to steer them right and guide them right and tell them the mistakes they were making. Everybody makes mistakes, but everybody needs to learn from their mistakes; it makes them a stronger person.”

Students have made an impact on her as well.  One thing that’s continued to impress Truman is the work ethic of some students.

“When you see kids that are not as well-off as others, and you see them achieve, it makes you realize, you know, the kids that work hard for it deserve it,” Truman said. “You’ve got kids who really work jobs—extra jobs — to get what they want, and it makes me appreciative of those kids who are willing to sacrifice and try hard to get their education.”

Truman doesn’t have specific plans for after retirement. Instead, she said, she’ll “take it one day at a time” and spend time with her family at home in Bethlehem.

“I know I’ll miss the people I’ve worked with…” Truman said. “And I’ll miss the kids, you know. I’ve been doing this for 31 years – it’d be crazy to say I wouldn’t miss it, but it’s time for me to step aside and let somebody else come in.”

Her advice for the next secretary: be adaptive to changes, and be someone who wants the best for the kids.