The Los Alamitos Unified School District presented the award for Classified Employee of the Year to Linda Laparco, a food service worker at McGaugh Elementary School in Seal Beach for continuing her “magical connection to students” despite the pandemic.
Director of Food Services Celeste Calubaquib first introduced Laparco to thunderous applause and said “we are here to honor and celebrate her as employee of the year.”
Calubaquib called her an exceptional employee, noting that “everybody cherishes your compassion, customer service dedication, reliability and lively disposition.
“I am amazed at her positive demeanor with all the changes we have gone through this year,” the director said, pointing out the way Laparco’s efforts transformed the school’s traditional food services into a drive-thru availability to ensure students got their meals at McGaugh Elementary.
She is a mother of three but “grandmother to hundreds” of McGaugh students.
“When they come through your line, you are able to remember their names and their faces,” said Calubaquib, “and thank you for coming to work every day, especially when the (pandemic) risk was at its peak.
“You exemplify our motto of better together,” she said, thanking Laparco for her efforts to ensure students were properly fed to provide them with a “better learning experience.”
“Thank you for going above and beyond,” said Calubiquib, noting that Laparco’s “can-do attitude” eased the burdens of the pandemic transition.
District Superintendent Dr. Andrew Pulver told Laparco “you truly are an exceptional employee; someone who is just loving, and caring to our students.”
“We have over 400 classified employees and we only get to recognize about three per year, so for you to recognized among our amazing, classified staff is really a testament to who you are,” he said.
“It is just the way you embrace all students, the way that you embrace providing services and meals, and you have an incredible team and what I loved is how excited your team was for you and the whole school,” said Pulver.
Speaking about cafeteria and food service workers generally, Pulver became a tad emotional, saying “I think I’ve formed a stronger bond with them during this pandemic.”
The entire board has also done so as well, he added.
“When most of our schools were closed, and most employees were at home during the height of the pandemic, our food service workers were showing up providing lunch services to our families and to those in need,” said Pulver with a crackle in his voice.
“They just stepped up and I could not be more proud to be associated with them and working alongside them,” the superintendent said.
“So I thank you and all of the food services staff for the food services you continue to provide to this exceptional community,” he told Laparco.
“Hello,” said Laparco, “I would just like to say, ‘thank you very much.’ I’m honored, I’m flattered, I’m shocked and I’m just so thankful.”
“I’m just so thankful that my children went to school, and when I see all of your kids, our kids, all the time, I think they’re my kids,” said Laparco.
“If my kids were here, I know you’d treat them like your kids. I think about it like that,” she said.
“I just care,” said Laparco, “and I thank all of you for caring. I’m just really grateful. Thank you.”