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Friday's honor roll reception was the last for retiring counselor

Eric Butler, assistant principal for the seventh grade, introduces Mansfield Middle School honor roll students individually during a reception Friday afternoon as counselor Kathi Gorbet, left, offers congratulations and awards Tyger key chains.

      Guidance counselor Kathi Gorbet knows firsthand that Mansfield Middle School students do indeed think good grades are cool.

      For two years Gorbet has been the key organizer of quarterly receptions for seventh- and eighth-graders who earned all A’s or A’s and B’s. Friday’s recognition program in the commons was her last. 

      Gorbet will retire in June after a 36-year career in education, two as a teacher and 34 as a counselor. This is her sixth year at the middle school.

      “My first two years here we did not do anything for the kids on the honor roll,” she said. “Then (teacher) Diane Barrios had two years during which she celebrated them with a breakfast. When Diane changed jobs I took on the role of supporting the students with our honor roll receptions. It’s been great. Teacher and administration support has been very helpful.

      “I will miss the kids and the opportunity to recognize so many who worked hard to earn good grades.”

      After the end of each grading period, Gorbet arranged a brief afternoon program during which students received colorful Tyger honor roll key chains and enjoyed refreshments that ranged from cake and punch to doughnuts and hot chocolate to an ice cream sundae bar.

      Students got excited about the recognition.

      “Often kids would come up to me in the hallway and tell me they were working hard to make the honor roll,” Gorbet said. “I would see others and ask what grades they were getting, always encouraging them to do their best. Whenever we posted the honor roll list so many kids were quick to check it. They seemed to love seeing their names in print.”

      Jessica Shaffner, assistant principal for eighth grade, and Eric Butler, assistant principal for seventh grade, helped Gorbet at the receptions this year, as did other teachers and staff. Students applauded and cheered as the names of their peers were announced.

      Gorbet hopes the recognition receptions will continue next year, but declining support from some local businesses may be an obstacle. The principal’s fund paid for the Tyger key chains, but Gorbet had counted on regular donors for money to buy the cake, punch, doughnuts, ice cream and other refreshments. One business cut its donation from $100 to $25; another ended its support.

      Gorbet contributed her own money to help make up the difference this year. Eighty-four students were recognized in January, 89 on Friday.

      “I have enjoyed my career as a school counselor,” Gorbet said Monday, “but it’s time to retire. The countdown has begun.”

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