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Robinson leaves with PCS’s class of 2012

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POTSDAM - As students from Potsdam Central School walked down the aisle at their graduation ceremony on Saturday, they weren’t the only ones wearing a mortarboard.

High school guidance counselor Kathryn P. Robinson was also wearing one of the caps, standing toward the end of the aisle, greeting her students as they made their way to the stage for their graduation.

While Mrs. Robinson wasn’t graduating, the ceremony also marked the end of her time at Potsdam Central School, after 28 years of service to the district.

“I’m really going to miss the kids,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for. I love working with them.”

Her time as Potsdam began in 1984 as a home economics teacher. She didn’t become a full-time guidance counselor until 1986.

Since that time, Mrs. Robinson said both her job and the students have changed.

“It’s more administrative now than when I first started,” she said. “There’s a lot more paperwork.”

As for the students, “The kids have definitely changed. It’s a different kind of student today than it used to be, but they really are wonderful kids.”

Her decision to retire came as a surprise to a lot of people, including many of her colleagues.

“It was a quick decision,” she said, recalling turning her retirement letter in on June 22. “A lot of people didn’t know I was retiring.”

When asked if she had any plans for the summer, Mrs. Robinson replied, “This will be the first summer I’ve had off in 28 years.”

She said she was planning to visit some family in Rochester, taking a trip to Maine and doing some volunteer work in the community.

“No huge plans,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to kicking back and enjoying the summer.”

Aside from the students, Mrs. Robinson also said she was going to miss the faculty and staff at Potsdam.

“We have an outstanding faculty, and I probably have the best secretary in St. Lawrence County,” she said, referring to Alison Adams.

“We work as a team,” she said. “I don’t look at her as my secretary.”

Ms. Adams also had some kind words to say Mrs. Robinson.

“It’s tough to fill her shoes,” she said. “We’ll have to start all over again.”

Ms. Adams recalled starting work the same time as the district’s other guidance counselor, Kim Miller.

“Kim and I both started at the same time, and she trained us,” Ms. Adams recalled. “Now the tide is turned.”

Friday morning, Mrs. Robinson also attended what would be her last faculty meeting.

“They toasted me,” she said, adding, a slide show featuring photos of her time at Potsdam dating back to 1986 was played.

Principal Joann Chambers also prepared a speech, with the help of her personnel file.

“She went through my file and dug out all the things people said about me,” Mrs. Robinson said. “It was a fun morning.”

Mrs. Chambers was aided in the presentation by Ms. Adams and Ms. Miller, who also prepared a top 10 list of Mrs. Robinson’s favorite sayings, including her personal favorite “Let’s Go Yankees!”

When asked if she had any memories of her time at Potsdam, Mrs. Robinson said there were too many to possibly list them all, but she did recall one day in particular that showed what is was like to work at Potsdam Central School, recalling former high school Principal Michael Valley’s 50th birthday.

“We all dressed in black,” even the kids,” she said, adding Dean Talcott, who operated a funeral home in town, picked him up at home in a hearse and brought him to school.

The school nurse at the time, Pat Burnap, was waiting in front of the school with a wheelchair and then wheeled him into the building.

“He went along with it all day,” she said. “It was like one big happy family.”

Since her time began at Potsdam, Mrs. Robinson said she’s worked with eight principals, two interim principals, at least eight superintendents, four secretaries and four other guidance counselors.

“It’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed my job, but it’s kind of bittersweet,” she said. “I keep telling everyone this is not goodbye.”

“I think I’ll probably continue to come to graduation,” she said. “I’ll be there helping the kids and telling them to slow down. That’s been my job for I don’t know how many years.”

And while Friday may have marked the end of her high school career, it too marked a beginning in her life.

The beginning of retirement.

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