Hazelwood Elementary School secretary treated to grand retirement

February 4, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

A lot has changed at Hazelwood Elementary School in the past 10 years — including the building — but one thing that hasn’t is Carolyn Thieme. Until now, that is.

Thieme retired Jan. 31 after 20 years with the Renton School District, the last 10 of which were at Hazelwood Elementary, where she sat behind the front desk, greeting students, parents and visitors with a smile.

However, she didn’t leave without a grand exit; about 100 friends, co-workers, parents, and current and former students came to wish her farewell at an after-school reception in the school’s commons Jan. 27.

Thieme said she was shocked by the turnout.

Carolyn Thieme receives flowers from students at her retirement reception Jan. 27. Hazelwood Elementary School Principal Cindy Farnsworth looks on. By Tim Pfarr

“I had no idea,” she said. “This is just mind-boggling.”

She made her way across the room chatting with those in attendance, often being approached by children and being handed cards and flowers.

Thieme, a Newcastle resident, said she often sees former students in town, and they often say hello just like they did in elementary school.

“The only difference is they’re about two feet taller,” she said with a laugh. She said seeing the children grow up has been one of the best parts of her job.

The reception also featured a presentation by Principal Cindy Farnsworth and an opportunity for attendees to step up to the microphone and wish Thieme good luck.

“She’s been incredibly supportive since day-one,” said Farnsworth, who has worked with Thieme since becoming the school’s principal in 2006. “What’s so amazing is that she’s the first person a lot of people see when they come here, and she’s so welcoming.”

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