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home : schools : othello school district March 26, 2015

9/11/2013 4:55:00 PM
Angela Cole recalls almost 50 years of service in the Othello School District
Angela Cole currently serves as meal secretary at Othello High School. Photo by Erik Pague.
Angela Cole currently serves as meal secretary at Othello High School. Photo by Erik Pague.
Erik Pague

For 49 years now, Angela Cole has been working in the Othello School District's various cafeterias. Now serving as the meal secretary at Othello High School, Cole has seen three generations of Othello students pass through the halls and lunchrooms and doesn't regret a single minute of it.
"You know what they say, if you really love your job it doesn't seem like work," she said. "I enjoy being with the students and the staff."
As the meal secretary, Cole is front and center running the computer system that charges students for their meals. She said she's always had plenty of help in adjusting to the numerous roles she's served in the department.
Cole originally started at the district in 1963 as a substitute teacher at the high school. She was also the chef in the high school kitchen and cooked everything from scratch for all three schools in the district at the time. After two years, she became a server at Lutacaga Elementary School. The following year she cooked some more at the newly built junior high school.
After doing this for some time, her superiors eventually asked Cole to become a supervisor, but at first, she had some resignations to the idea.
"They were looking for a supervisor and they asked me to do it ... but I felt like I wasn't qualified," she said. "Finally my husband said, 'why don't you try it?'"
She accepted the role despite feeling like she wasn't qualified, but fortunately, the crew she oversaw helped her become comfortable in her new position.
"They were pretty outstanding so that made my job easier," Cole said.
The next big change for Cole was helping to start a breakfast program at the schools in 1970 along with a salad bar.
"It was so amazing to watch the students eat salads, fruits and vegetables," she said.
One of the biggest changes she's seen in her time is the move away from making school food from scratch to what it's like today where plenty of schools are serving virtually the exact same items on the menu. She said growing class sizes were the main reason for this change and lunchroom cooks couldn't quite keep up with the demand.
In 1990, Cole retired for a few years before the district hired her back again in 1998. She doesn't cook much anymore, but she's in charge of collecting payments from students and she makes sure to say something nice to each one who comes through her line.
"It's been a very enjoyable experience," she said.
Cole hopes to continue working for some time and she said her husband might have something to do with it when retirement does become a possibility.
"I've been very fortunate that I've had good health and also a good memory," she said. "Like my husband said, 'you'll know when you're done and that's it.' So far, it's been good!"


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