The Voice of Wakefield High School

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The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

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Retiring teachers leave behind an indelible mark on the Wakefield community

Kendall Wilson
Two of Wakefield High School’s retiring teachers, Paul Orsett and Edward Lavan, will undoubtedly leave a mark on our community. They use their extensive teaching experience to pass on wisdom to upcoming teachers.

As the 2024 school year comes to a close, two of Wakefield High School’s beloved teachers prepare to retire. As they move forward with the next chapters of their lives, they leave behind not just their legacy, but valuable advice for Wakefield teachers and students.

Paul Orsett, head of Wakefield’s theater arts department, has been teaching throughout North Carolina for 34 years. He built Wakefield Theatre Company from the ground up and looks back with pride on what it has become today.

“Today in my second-period class, just looking at where they started [in] third quarter, and seeing where they are now,” Orsett said. “Seeing how much confidence they’ve built and how confident they feel about what they can do. That’s a major accomplishment.”

Orsett’s job at Wakefield was a demanding one. Not only did he have the responsibility of handling the high school’s shows, but he also was tasked with helping with the productions at Wakefield Middle School. Catherine Delaney, Wakefield Middle School’s theater teacher, recognizes how helpful Orsett was to her the past seven years at her own theater company, and will have to adapt to his absence.

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“Mr. Orsett will be so missed in the Wakefield Community,” Delaney said. “He has built such a unique partnership between the elementary, middle, and high schools. His legacy will continue long after he leaves.”

Edward Lavan is our dedicated woodshop teacher at Wakefield who will also be saying goodbye at the end of the 2023-2024 school year after 13 years in education. After being able to work closely with numerous students throughout the years, Lavan reflects on what he will miss most.

His legacy will continue long after he leaves.

— Delaney

“I’ll miss teaching these kids not only the curriculum, but also what they need to do in life to succeed, I thrive on that here,” Lavan said. “If [the students] bite those [life attributes] and they go with it, it makes me feel great.” 

Senior Gavin Stevens has been a student of Lavan for all four years of his high school career; he elaborates on the hand Lavan has lent to his success. 

“The impact he leaves reaches far beyond the walls of the classroom,” Stevens said. “He is more than just a teacher; he is a life coach and his lessons and skills will be remembered for a lifetime, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.” 

With several years of teaching under his tool belt, Lavan has been accustomed to a specific style of teaching that he uses to better connect with his students.

“I’m very personable, I tell jokes, I make fun of [my students], I call them nicknames and we have fun in class,” Lavan said. “If I can make the curriculum fun, the kids will pay more attention and learn more; that’s what I would tell new teachers, be your own person and keep it light for a better learning environment and better relationships.” 

These teachers have not only taught their students but also their peers. Many teachers who’ve worked alongside these retiring educators still hold on to the advice given to them. Delaney remembers what Orsett taught her at the beginning of her teaching career.

“I will never forget my first year at Wakefield Middle when Mr. Orsett gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received: ‘Just teach,’” Delaney said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the students, the rest will take care of itself. I still remind myself of that daily.”

Retiring from teaching is an exciting venture for these teachers, yet bittersweet as they have shaped so many young adults into the successful people they are today. Though the process of moving on can be tedious, these teachers recognize the lovely support they have received from the Wakefield community – a “thank you” for all their hard work.

“With everything that has transpired from my announcement, everything’s gone beautifully,” Orsett said. “I’m excited not only for my retirement but for the program and how it’s going to grow after I leave.”

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