Clark Magnet honors former secretary

On a typical morning at the beginning of this school year, a bus known as "Bus 106" carrying dozens of students to Clark Magnet High School from Glendale was late to school again.

So, Barbara Melone, then senior administrative secretary at the school, made an announcement she had grown used to making, often in her disgruntled, irritated or sarcastic tone.

"Bus 106 has just arrived," she told the entire student body over the school's intercom. Then, only to her colleagues in the school's front office, she joked, "I'm going to put 'Bus 106 has just arrived' on my tombstone."

Just weeks later, Melone passed away at age 67 after a long battle with cancer, but one that didn't keep her from missing work. 

Her sudden death rocked the campus, and students took to Twitter that day to say she was a "legend" and Clark wouldn't be the same without her.

PHOTOS: Bench dedication at Clark Magnet High School for Barbara Melone 

During a ceremony on Wednesday, Clark Principal Doug Dall recalled the day when Bus 106 ran late as he unveiled a bench on campus in her honor with a plaque that reads, "Bus 106 has just arrived."

He then pointed to the bus parked on New York Avenue that dozens of friends, family and district employees had not realized was there, and everyone applauded as its driver drove it a short distance closer to where they sat.

Melone worked for the Glendale Unified School District for nearly 40 years, starting as a textbook aide at Roosevelt Middle School in 1974, according to her family and district records.

For many years, she was Glendale High's senior administrative secretary until Clark opened as a magnet school in the late 1990s, and she took the same post there.

As the years went by, she became a go-to source for administrators and secretaries districtwide.

"The kids were everything to her," said Melone's husband, John.

She helped run the school's daily operations, all aspects of which were important to her, said her sister, Kathleen Johnson.

"The schedule for the year… getting ready for graduation — she planned it all and she would stay late to make sure something was done when it needed to be done," Johnson said.

"She was the school," said Clark English teacher Stephanie Sajjadieh, who knew Barbara Melone for 23 years.

Sajjadieh said Barbara Melone held high standards for the conduct of students and others on campus. While she could be short tempered or appear to others as "abrasive," Barbara Melone's temperament came from a place of loyalty and service to the school, she added.

"I think that was born from a real desire to maintain a certain level of excellence for the school," Sajjadieh said. "She cared a lot… She would walk through fire for people she cared about."

John Melone called the school's principal to relay the news of his wife's death. Barbara Melone had worked on campus the entire day before.

"We've lost our Barbara," Dall recalled her husband saying. "His words echo in my head to this day and I'll never forget them… Whenever you needed a question answered or something done, she was your Barbara."

On Wednesday, with the debut of the bench and the unveiling of Barbara Melone's name on a student-built robot, her family members were grateful, although they and school officials alike continue to grapple with her absence at the campus where she took full ownership.

"She was a force to be reckoned with," said Maria Gandera, assistant superintendent of human resources for Glendale Unified. "She was a wonderful force and we miss her terribly."


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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