HESPERIA — More than one thousand years of service to schools were celebrated at Hesperia Unified School District’s retiree recognition ceremony during the board meeting Monday night.

HUSD is bidding farewell to 54 employees — including Superintendent David McLaughlin — this retirement season, for a total of 1,165 years of service, according to district officials.

“I always picture retiring as a happy event, but so many of these people come up with tears in their eyes,” HUSD Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Karen Pelayes said during the retiree celebration ceremony Monday. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many high numbers (in years served). We’re losing a lot of history here.”

The greatest “high numbers” among the retirees were from receptionist Rebecca Shreve, with 37 years of work at the district, and Oak Hills High School English teacher Dale Ford, with 35 years.

About half of the total retirees were in attendance at the meeting to be honored, and more than half of them were teachers at various HUSD sites, while a few were from the administration side. All 54 names were read during the ceremony, hosted in partnership between the district, the California School Employees Association, the Hesperia Teachers Association and Hesperia Administrators, Managers and Supervisor (HAMS).

Retiring Classified Personnel Specialist of 20 years, Susan McDiarmid — whose “humor and support” will be missed, Pelayes said — and McLaughlin, HUSD’s superintendent of 29 years, were both emotional goodbyes for the hosts.

A special certificate went along with a plastic blow-up Junior Mints candy-themed raft as a gift to McLaughlin, thanking him for his “encourageMINT,” “involveMINT” and “investMINT” in HUSD, and congratulating him on his “retireMINT.”

“The reason for this is because you were like a liferaft to many of us,” Pelayes said. “You stepped in at a time when we really needed you made the waters safe again, so thank you.”

After shaking hands with or hugging the district board members and their respective school site administrators, retirees received “the cherished golden apple.”

“We know that working with students, which all of us do, is not just a career — it’s a calling,” Pelayes said. “And on behalf of the students that you have served over the years, we give you our sincerest thanks and we wish you all a very prosperous, healthy and happy retirement.”

Charity Lindsey may be contacted at clindsey@vvdailypress.com or 760-951-6245. Follow her on twitter@DP_Charity.