Van Buren County Special School students and staff held a retirement party June 28 to celebrate two long-time employees’ many years of service.

Patsy Tester retired after 30 years as the school’s lunchroom manager. Paula Thomas retired as one of the adult class teachers, having also previously worked with the infant class.

Tester earned her lunchroom manager certification in 1986 from the Arkansas School Nutrition Association (ASNA). She continued to further her training and education throughout the years and remains a member of ASNA. She also taught sewing classes for the adult students for several years.

Tester began her career with the school in November 1982. Tester, daughter of the late Elbert and Genevia Whisenant, is a Clinton native and is married to Darvil Tester.

The recurring message of the retirement event seemed to be the positive impact the women had made in the adult clients’ lives, as several of the students spoke emotionally about the personal relationships they had with Tester and Thomas and what it meant to them to have the pair in their lives.

Van Buren County Special School started in 1970 in Shirley and moved to Choctaw in 1974. The staff serves 27 developmentally challenged adults, as well as children from infancy to 5 years old in the school’s Lakeside Learning Center.