‘Hard to say goodbye’: Beloved North Andover lunch monitor, 90, retires after 25 years

NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Students, staff, and parents gathered Thursday at Thomson Elementary School in North Andover to celebrate the retirement of 90-year-old Shirley Kern, who helped oversee recess and lunch for 25 years.

“What I’m going to miss the most is seeing these bright-eyed children every time I come in,” Kern said.

Kern started working at the school when she was in her 60s. Now at the age of 90, Kern felt it was time to say goodbye.

“I’m going to be 91 in a couple weeks, so I think it’s time to leave,” she said.

Principal Christopher Raymond says Kern is loved by the entire school community.

“She really is an inspiration. We love her,” Raymond said.

Parent Jenny Tucarella says Kern is going to be dearly missed.

“She looks fabulous, for 91. She drives here every day, she’s got spunk, she’s great,” Tucarella said.

Students treated Kern to Christmas carols on her final day, singing “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” among other holiday hits.

“I’m sad Ms. Kern is retiring because she’s done a lot of fun things with us,” student Caden Chin said.

Fellow student Bella Prince said, “I’m definitely going to miss her but she does deserve it a lot.”

Some students grew emotional as they presented Kern with flowers, gifts, and letters wishing her well.

“It’s hard for me to say goodbye,” Kern said as she fought back tears. “I love you all!”

The students also gathered around Kern for a giant group hug before sending her off into retirement.

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