Classified Staff Appreciation Week: Donald Ellis, Cindy Harbison, Debbie Harris and Julie James keep students fueled for study


CJ Hilgaertner

Cindy Harbison runs the lunch counter at Four Corners. She enjoyed getting to know the students she served each day.

By James Favot, Editor in Chief

Students see their faces every day when they grab lunch between classes. They do their work quickly and efficiently, and they always serve food with a smile.

    Donald Ellis, who had previously worked at a carpenter’s union in Portland, values the work he does as well as the camaraderie of the people he works with and the student body.

    “I was totally shocked when I came here at how polite the kids are here,” Ellis said. “Everybody that we serve is just nice people, never any hassle.”

    Students have probably seen Ellis scooping ingredients into their trays if they’ve ordered the nacho plate from the far side of the cafeteria.

    Julie James, who runs the cash register in the cafeteria, also appreciates the respect she is given daily from others.

    “I like the staff that I work with and the students,” James said. Students pass by her every time they grab a burger or slice of pizza from the fast food line.

    Cindy Harbison serves food in Four Corners and likes getting to know the students that buy lunch from her every day.

    “I try to learn their names, and I don’t get to spend that much time with them; but I really like it when they say hello,” she said.

    Debbie Harris runs the snack bar in the cafeteria and appreciates that her work schedule keeps her keeps her occupied throughout the day. “I like that I’m always busy,” Harris said. “I’m never bored.”

    Though most students only know these people as cafeteria workers, they all have their own little stories to tell about themselves.

    Ellis, for example, loves firearms and enjoys shooting at ranges in his down time.

    “It’s hard to get around so I don’t go hunting much anymore, but I like to kill paper,” he said with a laugh.

    Harbison enjoys cooking even when she’s not in the cafeteria.

    “My daughter says I’m her favorite cook,” she said. Aside from cooking, she likes to garden and sew at home.

    Harris loves to visit the beach and explore new places, and James tends to the chickens on her parents’ 10-acre land in her down time.

    It takes a few hours each morning for the cafeteria workers to prepare all the food for the student body that day, but they love the work. The best way students can show appreciation is to be courteous and thankful.

    “Just saying ‘thank you’ means a lot,” Harbison said. “And if you like something, we appreciate hearing that.”

    Food service employees take time out of their lives, just like teachers, to do their part for the students at the school. Without them, Tigard High would be missing an important group of people, the ones who make sure everyone has something to eat to be fueled for study.

    “We all have to be here at six in the morning,” James said, noting that students and staff alike have a job to do no matter the role they play, and treating food service workers with a level of kindness and courtesy builds a stronger community.