Published May 11, 2023
BY AINSLEY HENDERSON
In 1979, Ann Berry—not yet a CUSD employee—began coming to Carmel High School each day, sitting with her daughter during class to ensure that she wasn’t skipping school. Shortly thereafter, she was hired as Carmel High School’s attendance secretary, in no time becoming an incredibly valued, involved and loved pillar of the school’s community.
Forty-four years later, after being out of the office since Dec. 19 on personal leave, the long-time Padre officially retired on May 1, leaving a strong legacy behind her.
“Her purpose was here,” says Linda Galuppo, CHS counseling secretary and a close friend of Berry. “This was her family, so to speak. She put her heart and soul into this place.”
Galuppo, who worked in the attendance office with Berry for three years before transferring to the counseling department, says she was a rock. She mentored her, and Berry grew into the person that Galuppo could always bounce ideas off of with the expectation of receiving honest and heartfelt answers in return. Even though Berry is no longer on campus, the two still talk regularly.
“She had a very kind and compassionate energy—warm heart, safe place to be, wrap my arms around you when you needed someone—that was her,” Galuppo says.
This welcoming philosophy didn’t just extend to fellow office staff. The matriarch was always willing to connect with students, whether by lending an ear, sharing a laugh or offering some potentially frank, yet definitely needed advice to any pupil who asked for it.
“I was a teacher’s assistant for Ann in the office my senior year,” says Cassandra Hanson, who currently teaches Sports Medicine at CHS. “I would come into the office every day and yell, ‘Annie my love!’ and no matter what her mood she would smile and laugh. [This year] I still popped in there and yelled it, and she remembered, which was fun.”
Matt Borek, who graduated from CHS in 1997 and joined the faculty as a Sports Medicine teacher in 2003, recalls when Berry took his senior portrait, showed him the ropes as a new teacher and photographed his wedding.
“She’s been a huge part of my life and my career,” the teacher says. “At my wedding, the shoes were hurting my wife’s feet, and she left the wedding, went and got her flip-flops and brought them back to the wedding. She’s always been so helpful.”
Current students note her kindness and dedication as well.
“Every time I’ve had problems with anything, I’ve gone to her,” senior Mya Schnyder says. “She was always so welcoming and so willing.”
Outside of the office, the Gustine, California, native was also an excellent and dedicated friend. CUSD board member Anne-Marie Rosen, whom Berry met in 1988 when Rosen’s son started his freshman year, recalls a time when Berry helped her with a sticky situation.
“A squirrel had gotten into the attic crawl space and died. Maggots were eating the body and then falling through the gaps into her clothing closet,” Rosen says. “I asked several people for help, and Ann was the only one to show up. She came dressed like Gorton’s fisherman and helped me clean up the mess as maggots were falling on us. No one but a true friend would help out in that situation.”
Rosen emphasizes that Berry loved her job and that her favorite part of it was the children. She was so much more than just a secretary: she was a teacher of office etiquette, responsibility and intrapersonal skills.
Berry was also an avid fan of Disneyland and a key planner of CHS’ annual graduation ceremony. For over 20 years, she helped to arrange the senior class Disneyland trip by chartering buses, purchasing food and even attending herself. As for graduation, the Disney fan liked it to be a traditional affair, since it is an incredibly special day for parents and only happens once in every high school student’s life.
“She did a lot,” Borek says. “She took pictures at hundreds of events, and she used to make these class collages. She would make them every year, for 20 years.”
Golden Anderson, CHS athletic director and a member of the CHS Class of ‘97, notes that during his time as a high school student Berry didn’t just help plan and dictate school events, but she provided a practical perspective.
“She wasn’t afraid to have some healthy banter,” Anderson says. “She would go back and forth with you, give you a hard time. As students, we always enjoyed that. It wasn’t a stuffy, uptight interaction–it was always super down-to-Earth.”
Galuppo notes that Berry’s retirement was a hard decision for her to make, and she believes that Berry will miss the kids most of all.
“Ann always saw the good in kids,” Galuppo says fondly. “Always. There were no bad kids. I think that was what was so wonderful about her.”
With Berry leaving, CHS hired Sara Scanlan for the position as of May 2. Scanlan has been subbing in the district since 2019 and filling in for Berry since her December departure.
While CHS will move onward after Ann Berry’s departure, the attendance secretary’s legacy and the lasting impact she left on CHS campus are unlikely to ever be replicated.