Parke retires after twenty-one years at WA

Kristen Su, News Editor

Not many people can say that they have dedicated the better part of their career to a particular job. However, for Administrative Assistant Betsy Parke, who will be retiring after twenty-one years at WA, this is just one of her many accomplishments.

Despite the evolving environment around her, the one thing that has never changed is her passion and commitment to the WA community.

“[My favorite part of this job is the] people and kids. […] It’s just a wonderful place to work. […] I never come to work dreading it, [and] I very rarely have gone home feeling like I’ve had a really bad day here,” Parke said.

Parke originally worked in banking before becoming an administrative assistant. Enticed by the working conditions and the fact that her children were already WA students, she decided to apply for the position.

“I just always wanted to get into the school system. I like [working on a] schedul[e], I like having time off for my kids in the summer. […] It’s just such a fun environment and I didn’t want to work weekends,” Parke said. 

As the administrative assistant for the athletic director, Parke’s daily tasks involve sorting through the details of the sports season. This includes organizing pre-season physicals and athletic fees, working schedules for each different team, and making sure that buses and referees are where they need to be before each game.

Dean Dan Twomey, who worked with Parke for seven years when he was the athletic director, attests to her importance in making sure every sports season runs smoothly.

“She knew where every field was, she knew the officials, she knew the coaches, she knew when coaches needed some help—she was such a behind-the-scenes person, […] but she’s such a huge, important piece. […] She’s just one of those unsung heroes,” Twomey said.

Despite the hardships that Parke has faced both in and outside the office, they are never enough to stop her from putting her best foot forward.

“She’s mentally very tough; [she’s] been through a lot of heartache over the last ten years that I’ve known her. […] She really doesn’t take sick days or anything. She comes in, no matter what’s going on,” fellow Administrative Assistant Hilary Langille said.

Parke mentioned that her family has always come first, explaining that this was the biggest factor in her decision to retire.

“I’m kind of sad that I’m leaving, but it’s time. I have six grandchildren I want to spend time with,” Parke said.

Even though she had been thinking about retiring for a while, the pandemic was ultimately the deciding factor that caused her to make the leap.

“All the stuff I normally do—schedules, the buses, taking athletic fees, counting money for games […] I wasn’t doing any of that, and I just became bored. […] And also, I couldn’t see my grandchildren in Vermont, because [the COVID-19 guidelines are] very strict there. […] I wanted to be able to see them whenever I want to, not being locked into vacations,” Parke said.

Parke will also be making room for some of her side hobbies, including decorative painting, gardening, sewing, and walking. Most notably, skiing is a passion that she has embraced over the years. She has even traversed the Alps and plans to do some skiing with her oldest son’s family.

“[Skiing] was something that I had to grow into because I wasn’t a skier when I got married, but my husband was very passionate about it. So, it was either learn to ski, or stay home,” Parke said.

Although she hints at the possibility of coming back to help the new administrative assistant, for the most part, Parke’s retirement will be nothing short of exciting.

“I plan on staying really, really busy. That’s what everybody says, as long as you have something to do when you retire, you’re going to be fine. My days will be filled,” Parke said.