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Mae Hensley staffer retires after 35 years
Since America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, Debra "Carlene" Kissee has been a fixture in the office of Mae Hensley Junior High School. As a school secretary, she's been an aide, errand runner, trouble shooter, truth detector and shoulder to cry on.

Now Mae Hensley Junior High School will be getting on without her. She worked her last day on Friday, closing out a 35-year career with the Ceres Unified School District. Her official retirement comes at the end of the year.

Kissee was hired by CUSD on Jan. 6, 1976 when Mae Hensley Junior High was only four years old. Since then the campus has been her home away from home. Generations of students and parents have been greeted by her in the front office and five superintendents - including Dr. Bob Adkison, Bruce Newlin, Bea Lingenfelter, Dr. Walt Hanline, and Scott Siegel - have appreciated her abilities to make the office run smoothly. Her tenure was under the watch of at least six principals, including Jack Davis, Sharon Brenneise, Karl Modgling, Lingenfelter, Linda Maben, and current Principal Carol Lubinsky. Some of the students in her early-day career are grown and have their own children attending the school.

Staff members have reported that the office will not seem the smile without Kissee's smiling face and greeting.

When asked what she will miss the most about her job, Carlene replied the junior high students. Over the decades she was given the opportunity to relocate to other sites but preferred to stay put, saying junior high school students were the best fit for her.

Carlene is awaiting the eventual retirement of husband Joe Kissee from his job as CUSD maintenance director after 31 years so they can enjoy more time together. They plan to travel across the United States and see some of the places her students have learned about in textbooks.

The couple has a daughter, Amy Rank who teaches in Waterford.

CUSD has an employee with longer tenure than Kissee. Rebecca Silva, hired on Sept. 19, 1974, worked for Westport Elementary and is now at Grandview Head Statt.