Beloved Lunch Lady Bids Her Kids Goodbye

By Melissa Mollet
|  Monday, Jun 13, 2011  |  Updated 10:01 PM EDT
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After 36 years at Cedar Grove Elementary, Nancy Sprague is retiring.

After 36 years at Cedar Grove Elementary, Nancy Sprague is retiring.

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Usually the last week of school is full of chatter about summer plans or pool parties. That's not the case for students at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Damascus, Md.

Students there are saying farewell to one of the most loved people at their school. Her name is Nancy Sprague. Now 69 years old, she's been a fixture in the school's cafeteria for the past 36 years.

This week has been full of flowers and homemade goodbyes for the soon-to-be retiree. Students are wishing her well, making cards and (her favorite) paper hamburgers as goodbye gifts.

"She's been a very good lunch lady to us," said Moshelle Borjagin, a fourth grader at the school.

Sprague said she's going to miss coming to the school early, prepping the cafeteria, warming the meals and seeing those smiling faces come down the lunch line.

Instead, now she'll be spending her time traveling in her camper, visiting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and tending her garden. She cans her own string beans and tomatoes.

But over the years at school, she's learned to laugh off any food-related complaints. "I say, 'Well, you know, it's gonna be better tomorrow'."

When she started at the school in 1974, she used her station wagon to transport lunches from Damascus High School, a few miles up the road. Now, the meals are delivered by the school system. Sprague heats them up and hands them out, complete with a side dish of her famous smile.

She said the hardest part of retiring will be when the next school year rolls around: "When it's time to start thinking about going back to school is when I'm going to start thinking maybe I shouldn't have retired."

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