The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The unsung heroes of Hagerty

photo by Holly Smyers
Executive Secretary, Cheryl Long talks with another staff member.

Walking into class, most students think of that one math test, talking to their crush or an upcoming game, but it takes a lot of unseen parts to make high school happen, and none of the highs and lows. While most students appreciate the teachers they always see face-to-face, a number of equally important staff work behind the scenes. Yet, like oxygen, they are the invisible force that keeps the school alive.

Staff members such as administrators, secretarial staff, custodial workers and clerks are just some of the people who work. Clinic nurse Debra Henken-Strigaro, works on any medical issues students bring to her attention. Whether mental or physical, she always does her best to give students the care they need, all while helping out at the front desk as well. 

“I try to treat each and every one of them like they’re my own children. I just hope that I’m making an impact on how they feel when they leave,” Henken-Strigaro, who goes by Mrs. Debbie, said. “I just hope they always leave with a smile on their face.”

Unlike Henken-Strigaro, other office staff do not have as much student interaction. However, their passion for student welfare and education is apparent. Stephnie DeVivo, the school one of two school bookkeepers, keeps track of the school’s funding and buys the needed materials. Her reason for working here started off just for her kids, but eventually developed into something more.

“It was a good mom job—I can have the same schedule as my kids. I like that I get to help the school and ultimately help kids get what they need for learning,” DeVivo said.

Similar to DeVivo, many of the staff first joined the education field to be on the same schedule as their children but stayed due to the welcoming environment that they found. One example is executive secretary Cheryl Long, who has been in education for 21 years. Best known as principal Robert Frasca’s secretary, her job encompasses a great deal more as she oversees the hiring process, deals with payroll, and manages various projects for every department of the school. 

“I started because the schedule kind of worked with my children, but I love it,”  Long said. 

I try to treat each and every one of (the students) like they’re my own children. I just hope that I’m making an impact on how they feel when they leave.

— Debra Henken-Strigaro

The staff members are dedicated to their jobs, with some like Long having worked decades due to their love for education. Patricia Narvaez, the secretary of discipline, has even been involved with the educational community for over 40 years. She deals with all of the referrals, transportation, permission slips and any other paperwork the school needs to submit. 

“I’ve been in education for a long time…  because I like children, and I like to work with them,” Narvaez said. 

All students know deadlines are very stressful, but instead of grades, the staff have the added pressure of keeping the school running. They do this through managing various projects, completing paperwork, and solving any problems that arise.

“When [Mrs. Patricia] goes away for two days on vacation. I’m looking at her desk, (it’s) craziness,” Kelly Fate-Quinn, the dean of discipline said.

Network Specialist, Jennifer Zizzo, deals with any technology issue the school may come across. She first discovered her passion for education in college and still finds enjoyment in it today.

“I do enjoy working with the teachers and the students, and it’s rewarding to be able to help and make things work,” Zizzo said. “(It’s) a little bit of pressure sometimes when things don’t exactly go like they’re supposed to, but I think the good outweighs the bad most of the time.”

In addition to deadlines, adapting to ever-changing problems and projects is a part of daily life for Hagerty staff. Karen Relying, the full-time equivalent (FTE) clerk deals with calls, emails, school funding and so much more. 

“I come in with the plan every day and usually I end up doing 50 million other things,” Rehrig said.

There are many obligations that the staff have to do to keep the school running, and they always work hard to fulfill them, even if it means working unpaid overtime. Often, staff members have to work outside of contractual hours to complete required tasks, especially at busy times like the beginning and end of the year.

“I was working a lot of overtime hours—it gets a little frustrating to have to work extra time and not get paid,” Relying said. “I was working overtime when school started just to try to get everybody set in the system correctly so that school could start.” 

Though students might not see it, staff and especially administrators value the dedication. 

“It’s probably at least five hours extra a week,” Fate-Quinn said.  “You just get on and help kids …You don’t have to answer on the weekends, but do because as a mom,.. I know how they feel.”

Despite it being hard work, these staff members all bring a sense of passion to the job.  Secretaries, nurses, bookkeepers, clerks and deans help keep the school running.  

“Everybody has a role and function that’s important. The teachers are in the classroom, but they couldn’t do the jobs that they do and I couldn’t do the job that I do without our support team in place making sure that all of the details are taken care of,” Frasca said. 

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Holly Smyers
Holly Smyers, Staff Reporter
Holly is a sophomore at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading and ice skating.
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