The Next Chapter: 2021 Lakeland Retirees
May 6, 2021
After the school year is over, most of us will remember it because of the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From virtual meetings and classes, to wandering the halls of Lakeland Regional High School wearing a mask and spreading out to keep distance from one another, this year will certainly go down as one of the most infamous and memorable school years ever.
However, some will remember this school year for different reasons, like the staff members who prepare to move on to the next stage in their lives and retire from LRHS. While the pandemic sure has made their last year or two at Lakeland a wild ride and something that they have never experienced in their time here or anywhere else, they still have had some wonderful years working at Lakeland, and are even more excited to enjoy the future.
Here are this year’s Lakeland retiring staff:
Dr. Thomas Lambrinides:
Dr. Thomas Lambrinides, or Dr. L. as his former and current students call him, has been teaching at Lakeland since 1977. He has been teaching U.S history and law.
Dr. L. has enjoyed seeing his students “grow and mature and once they graduate, email and visit me.” He is going to miss the conversations and everyday interactions with the Lakeland community.
During retirement, Dr. Lambrinides plans on taking an RV trip “to the Southwest 4 corners region.” He also plans on spending a lot of time with family. He wants to attend “as many of the school events of my 12 [grandchildren], take a ton of pictures, and embarrass them as much as possible.”
Mr. Fred Smith:
Mr. Fred Smith has been with Lakeland for 23 years as a custodian and a bus driver.
When asked about what he’ll miss about Lakeland, he said “I will [miss] both the students and staff, but mostly, driving the athletes to [their] games, and events and getting to cheer for them.”
Some of his favorite memories and moments involve the girls lacrosse county championship, and driving the bus to big events in Lakeland athletics. However, his favorite moment was being able to watch both of his sons pitch in the baseball county finals. He was and is “so proud.”
During retirement, Mr. Smith intends on moving down to Alabama, where he and his family just built a house. He “can’t wait to get there and make it a home.”
Ms. Mary Conklin:
Ms. Mary Conklin has been working as a special education paraprofessional for 36 years.
The thing she will miss the most about Lakeland are the “students and my colleagues who made the Lakeland family continue to grow together.”
Her favorite memory from working at LRHS was “walking a wheelchair bound student, through the graduation processional and having everyone give that student a [standing] ovation.”
During retirement, Ms. Conklin plans on “[spending] time at [her] sister’s shore home watching the tides go by. Also, spending time going to [her] grandson’s baseball games. Taking it day by day for awhile”
Ms. Gail Persico:
Ms. Gail Persico has been working at Lakeland for 20 years.
The thing she is going to miss the most about LRHS is the students.
When asked about her favorite memory at LRHS, she couldn’t pinpoint just one.
During retirement, Ms. Persico has a lot in store. “MOST IMPORTANT is [to] spend more time with my beautiful granddaughter.” Along with this, she intends to get to business by “finally clean[ing] out the closets and eliminate the things [she has] accumulated over the years from the job and family that are no longer needed.” She also has thoughts of moving out of state.
Ms. Patricia Wood
Ms. Patricia Wood has been at Lakeland for a “great 28 years,” as a classroom teacher and as a learning disability teacher consultant. “Both roles have rendered the same outcome for students…success and productive lives,” she stated.
Ms. Wood has two favorite memories from her earliest time here at LRHS. Her first memory is being a “senior class advisor, along with Ms. Conklin, and convincing our administration to allow us to do a “Donkey Basketball” fundraiser.” They were able to raise a total of $5,000 for that year’s prom and for a senior trip.
Her second memory is when she had the opportunity to take a group of special needs students on a camping trip in the snow. “It all worked out with lots of sledding, snowshoeing and hot chocolate,” she said.
Her plans during retirement include “traveling to Europe…which was crushed last spring by Covid.” She also intends on spending a lot of time at the beach.
Ms. Wood added, “Farewell to my colleagues and remember my motto…’It takes a village’,and I believe Lakeland has been a great village for our students.”
Mr. Juan Invernon
While Mr. Invernon was unavailable for an interview, his coworker had nothing but compliments for him. Dr. David Neidosk said “Juan’s retirement will be a huge loss for the district, considering he’s been here forever, and knows the buildings like his own child.”
We want to thank all of this year’s retirees for everything they have done for the LRHS community. We will miss you all and we wish you all the very best in the future!