85-Year-Old Guidance Counselor Honored

At 85, Lillian Orlich rises at 1 a.m. to start her work day, checking email and catching up on paperwork.

For 60 years, she's been that committed to her job as a teacher and later as a guidance counselor in Prince William County.

The early start also allows Orlich extra time with technology, which she admits still gives her a little trouble.

"I detest [email] with a purple passion," Olrich said. "But you know why? Because I'm a person who has to look at another individual. I have to read your body language. I have to look into your eyes. it's just how I grew up."

Tuesday, Prince William County School officials recognized Olrich for her 60 years of service to the county. At an age when plenty of people would have long been retired, Orlich, a guidance counselor at Osbourn Park High School, is still committed to helping young people find their way.

"Oh you know what's a highlight for me? When a student comes in here and says, 'Ms. Orlich, you taught my granddad, and I say, 'Yeah okay.' And they say, 'What kind of student was he?'

"This is how I answer: 'He was the best!' And I say, 'You have to live up to him then.,'" she said.

"He may have been the worst, I don't know!'" Orlich joked.

Olrich was born and raised in Manhattan then moved to Manassas, Va., when she was 22. She started her career as a teacher, then moved into counseling.

"She would be the first person that comes to mind if I had to say who cares about my education and future," junior Joe Maniaci said.

"She's still very much on the ball," Osbourn Park senior Rachel Labella said. "[But] she does have some problems with computers."

True, technology has drastically changed at Osbourn Park. But Olrich said her job has remained the same.

"What they use may be different, obviously all this 'scientific stuff,' but their questions are the same. 'Am I going to be an okay kind of person? Am I going to love what I do? Am I going to go into the right field? What courses should I take?' Those questions never change," Olrich explained.

Paging through her old yearbooks, Olrich said all of her first students have either passed away or retired. She says she has no plans to do either.

"I like what I do. So why shouldn't I continue doing it? It's exciting, this job," Olrich said. "How shall I say ... It's a lift each day. That doesn't mean it doesn't have its down moments. It does. Every job does, or everything you do has a down moment. But, at the end of the day, if I can find one up moment, I've made my day."

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