| Jun 18, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 11, 2009 Sharbot Lake High School says good-bye to two Pillars of SupportBy Chava Field-Green

Pat Dowdall and Dianne Lake preparing to step out the door.

In my last eight years of involvement with Sharbot Lake Intermediate and High schools, I’ve had dozens of teachers, three principals, five vice principals, three guidance councilors, and countless friends who all, in some way or another defined my school career. However there were two constants every semester: Office Manager Pat Dowdall and Head of Cafeteria extraordinaire Dianne Lake.

Both ladies will be retiring at the end of this semester after 29 and 28 years respectively.

For me, Pat Dowdall represented positive energy and a friendly smile in the early morning announcement routine. She provided an endless supply of support in Student Council and peer tutoring activities. And who could forget the Charlie Chaplin costumes that both Pat and Chris Bertrim wore on twin day on more than one occasion?

Born in Perth and raised in Maberly, Pat attended Perth & District Collegiate Institute.

She worked for a year at the Township of Oso part-time so that she could be at home with her kids. However Marcel Giroux, who was head of student services at the time, called and asked if she would like to work in student services at SLHS. Two years later she moved to the main office and by 1987 Pat Dowdall was the main office manager.

“It’s a great career”, Pat said in an interview last week, “Getting to work with such a great staff and watching the kids grow year after year; visiting with graduating students when they come back for commencement and seeing where they’re up to, I’ll miss that.

“I’ll also miss the way we all get along on the staff, as if everyone is equal. We’ve had some very dynamic principals. Right now we are lucky to have Janet Sanderson, who goes above and beyond for our school, she’s very compassionate and energetic.

“I think this has been such a success for me because of such great co-workers. Sharon (MacDonald), Melody (Jones) and Chris Bertrim and I have definitely been the team.”

And next year Sharon will be returning to the school to take Pat’s place.

Dianne Lake moved from Richmond Hill to north of Harlowe when she was in high school. She attended SLHS for three years. Nine years, and two kids later she responded to an ad in none other than the Frontenac News for the head of the cafeteria.

As her daughter Sarah headed off to Kindergarten, Dianne joined the SLHS staff, and Principal Enn Pajur.

Throughout the years Dianne has enjoyed the special events at the school: the many proms, winter carnivals, trips to NYC with the band, and even a trip to Manitoulin Island with the Senior Boys Volleyball team in 2005.

She’s also enjoyed building pretty special relationships with the students who helped her in the cafeteria, four a day in the first 10 years. “I’m going to miss the young and not so young people.”

But what she won’t miss is waking up at 5am, and making 20 dozen chocolate chip cookies a week. Mmm, but weren’t they good!

As one of the hundreds of helpers I can attest to the sheer amount of work Dianne does week after week, providing healthy and delicious food for the masses - making sure food orders come in from near (all the bread and pizza dough comes from the Rising Bun) and far - all while still being able to chat with almost every student to step foot in the cafeteria door.

Her commitment to the community will remain strong even as she retires. She will continue on as leader of Weight Watchers, and remain active with the Sharbot Lake United Church. Dianne also hopes to continue to keep track of SLHS historical archives, and help to plan future anniversaries.

And what will the two ladies be up to next year? In two separate interviews, both women stated that next year they will spend more time with their grandchildren and their husbands, and Pat will spend more time with her mother, and Dianne with both of her parents.

Farewell Pat and Dianne, you will be greatly missed. 

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