In the wee hours of the morning, while the school buses slumber in their stalls and classrooms are quietly closed, there is a warm light glowing in one small corner of the school building. The kitchen comes to life with the smells of hot buttered biscuits and simmering sausages, as one faithful worker rises before dawn everyday to feed the children of our community.
For 38 consecutive years, Kay James has been serving hot and healthy meals to the students of Jones Public Schools. This Thursday, March 11th, she will officially hang up her apron for the last time, as she embarks on a new adventure, retirement.
Originally from Oklahoma City, she moved to Jones in 1966. She and her husband, Homer (now married for 62 years), wanted to raise their children in a small town. Both of her children, Kathy James Grubb and Lee James are graduates of Jones High School, 1978 and 1980 respectively. She originally took her job at the school to allow her more time with her children. “I wanted to have the same hours as the kids.” She worked for four years during the 1970’s as her children attend school, and came back in 1983 at the request of the superintendent.
Miss Kay has served at all three school sites, working for one (1) year at Jones Elementary School, seven (7) years at Jones Middle School, and her remaining tenure at Jones High School. By my estimates, Miss Kay has fed over 10,000 students during her tenure and served over 15,000 meals.
The most difficult season was in 2007, when Jones High School was tragically burned to the ground. Miss Kay recalls the last meal she served in the old building on December 7th and the building burning to the ground on December 10th. For the next three years, she prepared meals in the Elementary School cafeteria and transported everything to the High School to serve students.
Getting a little teary-eyed, Miss Kay stated the best part of her career has been working with all the kids and the love she receives from them. However, she is looking forward to retirement, without her alarm clock ringing at 4 am every morning.
We wish you all the best Miss Kay as you enjoy a well deserved season of rest. Thank you for your many years of service and sacrifice for our community.