Spotlight  – Q & A

Where did you grow up? I was born in Chehalis. My Mom was working for the Lewis County PUD in Chehalis, I was on her insurance, which only allowed me to be born in Lewis County.

Were you raised in Longview? Except two years of college, and a couple years in Bellingham while my father finished college, I’ve spent my entire life in Longview.

Ms. Kickabush, Mark Morris HS Head Secretary

Where did you go to school? I attended Columbia Heights Elementary; it was K-6 back then. From Columbia Heights, I went to Cascade for 7th through 9th grade then onto Mark Morris – class of 1977.

What are some of your memories from high school? For me Mark Morris was a second home – I grew up here. I was very active in school participating in drama, choir, yearbook and student government.

What role of student government were you in? Activities coordinator.

How else were you involved in high school? I got involved in every girls league, pep club – I joined just about anything I could. Don Wiitala was my DECA teacher for three years.

What did you do after high school? I loved high school and wanted to be a teacher. My Dad did not want me to be a teacher – he talked me out of it.

Where did you go to college? Since I wasn’t going to be a teacher, I went to Mt. Hood Community College because they had a great marketing program. I spent 2 years at MHCC and decided big city life was not for me.

Did you come back to Longview after college? Yes, I came home from MHCC to figure out what I was going to do for work and got a call from Dave Grocott, who was the principal at Northlake Elementary. Mr. Grocott had an open para position and wanted me to sub until the position was filled. This was the fall of 1979. I ended up working at Northlake until it closed in about 1983.

What did you do after Northlake closed? I was 23 years old at the time and the district transferred me to the ISS (In School Suspension) room at RA Long High School. The job was not a good fit for me.

What did you following the stint at RA Long? I came back to work the next fall at Cascade Middle School. Dave Jeitz called me; he was the principal at Cascade. I worked at Cascade as a para for a one year, moved to the nurse’s office for a few years, then finally into the secretary/attendance position.

When did you get a job at Mark Morris? In 1990, I left Cascade and came to Mark Morris to be the registrar. After two years as the registrar, I was the Guidance Office secretary for 15 years, and then became the Head Secretary in 2006.

Looking back what are some of your memories? I have worked with some amazing people over the years. I’ve been blessed to work for great building administrators, teachers and support staff. There are so many great memories. I worked for the volleyball program for about 20 years, which I enjoyed a lot.

What is the best part of your job? The best part of my job is the relationships with kids. I know students who are now grown up and have kids of their own. When I worked in the guidance office, I knew 99 to 100 percent of the kid’s names. I’ve been to more weddings and seen more new babies than I would ever have seen if it wasn’t for this job.

What are your thoughts after all the years? I just hope I made a difference for the kids. I know they have for me.

What is it like being the head secretary? This job keeps you young – you have to stay current. Staying up on what is going on with music, in the theater and current events is important. I’ve always said, “If you can’t be independently wealthy, it’s a great place to work.” I would not want to work anywhere else.

How long has someone in your family worked at Mark Morris? In 1962, my Dad (Jim Kickabush) started work at Mark Morris Junior High, which was in the basement of Kessler Elementary school. (While building Cascade Junior High, Mark Morris Junior High moved to the basement of Kessler Elementary.)

Where else did your Dad work in the district? He moved to Cascade Junior High when it opened, then came to Mark Morris in the fall of 1965 as a history teacher. In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s Dad earned his traffic safety endorsement and taught traffic safety until the end of his career.

Did your siblings attend Mark Morris? My sister Karol Kickabush was a student at Mark Morris, when Dad was teaching. Karol graduated in the Mark Morris class of ’83. My youngest sister Mary Kickabush (Dorland) graduated in the Mark Morris class of 1984.

Did your Mother work in the district? My Mother (Linda Kickabush) was the secretary at Cascade Middle School then moved to Mark Morris in the fall of 1983. Mom and my sister Mary were here for one year together.

When did your Mother retire? Mom retired around 1997-98 as the head secretary at Mark Morris. I moved down here from Cascade Middle School in the fall of 1990.

What did your parents teach you? My parents taught us work ethic, you do not work hours – you work a job. My parents taught us you work until the job is done. For me my job is much more than just a job – it’s a profession.

What do love most about your profession? The people. The day to day tasks of the job – is the job. The profession is being a part of other people’s lives and the life of this building. This building (MMHS) is a living, breathing thing.

What are your earliest memories of Mark Morris? At the age of five I attended high school graduation. I remember asking my Mother why some graduates had gold cords around their neck while others did not. After my mother explained the cords I made the goal to wear gold cords on graduation day – and I did.

Did you spend a lot of time at Mark Morris? As a youngster, I would come with my Dad to MM on Saturday mornings and help decorate for prom or do other stuff. Growing up my whole life revolved around school.

What was it like to grow up in the halls of Mark Morris then come back here to work? Coming back to work here was like coming home. When I leave MM to retire it will be incredibly difficult. For me Mark Morris is home.

How has school changed? There’s lots of emphasis on testing and pushing kids hard. The emphasis know seems to be graduating and going to a four-year college. When I grew up Longview was a true blue collar town. Many kids from my class went straight from high school to work in the mill – it is what we did.

Are we still a blue-collar town? Yes, but we are hurting. Back then jobs in the mill paid well and there were plenty of jobs available.

Has the community changed over the years? Our community has changed, which has changed our schools. We’ve lost so many mill jobs and have a much higher poverty rate, which changes the whole community.

How has this affected school? We spend a lot more time doing social service work now, in addition to teaching, which did not used to be the case years ago.

What activities do you enjoy outside of school? Of course, I am a big supporter of Mark Morris programs. I’m a pretty big crafter; especially paper crafting like scrapbooking, making greeting cards and home décor. I do recipe books and picture frames too.

What sort of recipe books? I make recipe books for bridal shower gifts. The idea is whoever buys the book puts recipes into it for their new daughter in law.

What kind of recipes are in your personal recipe book? I come from a long line of good cooks. My family has some wonderful recipes and a few are so precious we won’t even share them.

What recipes won’t you share? Grandma Kickabush’s chicken coating recipe – it’s like a shake and bake type of thing. Long before there was “Shake and Bake” Grandma Kickabush invented her own version -and we don’t share it.

Who determines which recipes are shared and which stay in the family? My mother. Mom was very clear which recipes are family secrets. I tell people I’ll happily cook food for them, but cannot share the recipe.

What are your personal favorite dishes? Grandma Kickabush’s Shake and Bake chicken. Chicken cacciatore, the recipe is a lot of work – but it’s really good. Hungarian Goulash is another favorite.

Did all families growing up years ago have a goulash recipe? Yes, but we call the hamburger and macaroni recipe “glup” in my family. Our Hungarian goulash is a thick, rich red sauce with chunks of beef and sauce on the top – very different from glup. I love glup too, they are just different.

What about dessert? We have never been a big dessert family. My Mom didn’t love to bake, she loved to cook savory dishes. My Grandma Gudgel was the “sweet baker”.

What will you do in retirement? I will stay active and involved in the schools in some way, whether it’s volunteering in an elementary reading program or in the office. I just want to give back to my community.

What about outside schools? I was active at St. Vincent de Paul for years a number of years, so I plan to do some volunteer work there. I’m also interested in working on the Go Fourth committee. Go Fourth is a wonderful thing for our community.

What else? I am not a big traveler, but love the beach. Long Beach is my favorite because it’s so quiet. The ocean is rejuvenating; something about the waves going in and out is very cleansing. I can sit for a long time and just watch the water – it clears my mind and soul.

Do you have any final thoughts? What’s in your heart is what’s important, do what’s in your heart – kids have always been in my heart.