After 38 years of working as Carmel High School’s front desk secretary, Ann Berry is planning her retirement. Although this seems like a long time coming and something that should be celebrated, Berry won’t tell anyone when she is exactly retiring.
Her motives for concealing when she is leaving CHS are unknown and she will not tell anyone. She could leave at a moment’s notice.
“It could be I just die at the desk,” Berry jokes. “I won’t even tell the principal when I’m leaving.”
Berry’s job consists of running attendance, signing students in and out of school and arranging countless papers. In addition to these duties, she is widely regarded as the glue that holds the school together.
“She keeps us all organized and makes sure all the teachers are doing what they’re supposed to do,” says Kristine Tarozzi, a former student at CHS who now works as the dance teacher.
Linda Galuppo, an office co-worker of Berry’s, has been working with her for the past 30 years.
“She’s sort of a mother to all,” Galuppo says. “She really does care about the children, [CHS students] are her family.”
Junior Molly Wolf, a dedicated office aid for Ann Berry, has looked up to her since she was a freshman.
“Ann has always been there for me. She gives great advice. Any time I have a question or a problem I can go to her,” Wolf says. “If she doesn’t have the answer, she can send me to someone that does.”
Steven Russell, the CHS art teacher, had help from Berry to assist him in having a smooth transition when he joined the staff in 2015. Russell can says that if it weren’t for Ann Berry, he wouldn’t have learned how to do a lot of the tasks a CHS teacher has to do as quickly.
The secretary’s long career at Carmel High has made a lasting impression on her life and a collection of stories. Berry recalls supporting an eight-boy swim team who went to CCS in 1995, wrestling with congressional candidate Jimmy Panetta in 1987 and having monthly talks with a former student, now lawyer, living in Colorado. She also reflects on how students haven’t changed much since she started working at CHS.
“Students are the exact same as they were when I first started here,” Berry says. “They’re all going through the same problems. It’s fun to meet new kids. It’s fun to see them grow from snotty nose freshmen to little brat seniors.”
What has changed, according to Berry, is the parenting.
“Parents before, if you called and told them their child was misbehaving for any reason, would be up here and pulling the kid by the ear and taking them home,” Berry says. “Today, parents are always making excuses for kids. They don’t hold their children accountable.”
The secretary began her career here in 1979 because her daughter would continuously skip class. Berry eventually had enough of this and brought her lunch to school with her and started sitting in class with her daughter every day.
Since then, the long-time Padre hasn’t changed much in the way she does her job. The secretary believes that the only thing that has changed about the way she works is how she has changed her temper: “I’ve calmed down a lot: I fight only the battles that are worth fighting.”
Ann Berry is still known for her occasionally volatile attitude. Wolf recalls an incident where she accidently called 911 instead of the CHS athletic department.
“She was pretty upset,” Wolf says.
Sophomore Alex Collin, one of Berry’s office aids, professes that if it weren’t for Ann Berry he wouldn’t have fixed his sleep schedule, which makes him less stressed and makes for an easier time at school.
“I was having trouble sleeping, and I told her about it,” Collin says. “She told me to push my bed time back an hour at a time. After I did that I was able to have more energy for school.”
During retirement, Berry plans to take a long vacation and travel around Europe.
Ann Berry has been a key member of Carmel High history and a role model in the development of its students. She has gotten a firsthand look at life at CHS throughout the decades and has reveled in her role as the school attendance secretary in those years.