A slice of local life: Heidi Huskey, Parkdale School secretary

Heidi Huskey revels in the daily joys and surprises at Parkdale, where she has worked for 40 years. She keeps her hands in everything, from giving a comforting touch after a playground tumble to updating parent contact information.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Heidi Huskey revels in the daily joys and surprises at Parkdale, where she has worked for 40 years. She keeps her hands in everything, from giving a comforting touch after a playground tumble to updating parent contact information.

“I love every minute of every day.”

Heidi Huskey has said that for 40 years as secretary of Parkdale Elementary, a school where she also attended.

Each day, she sits at the hub of activity at this small but busy school.

“It truly is something different every day, and never a dull moment,” said Huskey, who started with the school district in 1970 at the AV Department (historical note: that stands for Audio Visual, as in filmstrips). AV was located in the basement of Coe Building. After a year she moved next door to be secretary for then-superintendent Frank Lariza.

In 1973, Huskey said, the late Bob Thoman, Parkdale principal at the time, “asked me to stop by the house. He asked me if I wanted the position.

“He said, ‘Can you come by the house?’ You would never see that today,” Huskey said. Thoman was the first of eight principals Huskey has served with, including Kim Vogel, now in her third year.

“They’ve all been great; each one different,” said Huskey. “I learned from each of them.”

Vogel notes that she and her staff have much to learn from Huskey. She recalled the time two years ago when Huskey had a family medical emergency — on the first day of school.

“I was in here with two parent volunteers and two teachers, five of us trying to do Heidi’s job — getting kids registered or to the right room, finding this information or that important form. We were all trying to be Heidi, and failing! She is an amazing person.”

Heidi’s two brothers, Hup Streich and Hoby Streich, live in the Hood River valley, and Heidi is married to Bob Huskey, sexton at Idlewilde Cemetery. They have two grown children, Savannah and Shay.

Huskey describes her job this way: “I’m a counselor, parent, nurse, referee, friend, you name it. Around here, we all are. This is such a great school; the people are so wonderful. Everyone helps out in whatever way they’re needed.”

One moment she’s helping as a classroom aide on an art project, the next she’s interceding after a playground dust-up.

At 8 a.m. she’s getting a mother’s message to a worried student that “Daddy found her bunny” and at 11:40 she grabs her radio and heads to the playground to fill in as monitor.

At 1 she’s taking a call about a student’s bus route home, and at 2:20 she’s outside on the bus lane helping get the kids on board.

In addition to answering the phone and working the counter, she updates parent records, tallies the lunch count and manages the all-important and ever-changing “bus notes.” These are the changes in where a child will ride after school and where they will get off; be it a friend’s home, parent’s work place, the babysitter or other.

“We make sure kids are always safe,” she said.

“Sometimes they just come in (to my office) just to give me a hug. That’s the best part of this job,” she said. “The kids are great here. It’s fun; it really is.”

Huskey said that after 40 years she has no plans to leave.

“I will stay here as long as they let me. I love the kids, the staff, the parents. Every day seems new here.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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