"The Girls from Ames High"

Few Ames High alumni have the opportunity to interact with their former classmates in the workplace. It may come as a surprise to current AHS students that the four secretaries in the front office—Wendi Reger, Bridget McCarley, Kathy Packer, and Barbi Greenlaw—all walked the halls of Ames High as students. Reger, who graduated in 1971 and is the current secretary to the principal, has worked closely with the other three secretaries for nineteen years and tried to maintain a “calm, upbeat atmosphere.” “I think we, as secretaries have a wonderful working relationship,” Reger said. “When I first came to the high school there seemed to be friction between the front office secretaries and the back office secretaries. I have tried to make sure everyone feels that we are one group and we support each other.” Reger, Greenlaw, Packer, and McCarley liken their friendship to that of the ten women featured in Jeffrey Zaslow’s book The Girls From Ames. Reger explained, “Although we have not known each other as long as the ‘Girls from Ames’ have known each other, I think we have the same closeness. We frustrate each other at times, but we will defend each other always. We will comfort one another, rejoice with each other, and encourage each other along the way.” Greenlaw, who graduated from Ames High in 1972 and currently works as the Registrar, shared her experiences as an Ames High student during the Vietnam era. “Ames High School was a grade 10-12 school when I attended and Dr. Ralph Farrar was principal,” Greenlaw said. “There was a peace rally and candlelight march protesting the Vietnam War on a little knoll where the parking lot and the Ames High sign are now.” Extracurricular activities looked a lot different, too, according to Greenlaw. “Ames High had an underground newspaper called Dog’s Breath ,” Greenlaw said. “I belonged to an environmental action club at the high school and we had a huge newspaper drive as one of our service projects. And Pep Club was huge. Most of the girls were in it and wore wool skirts and matching AHS sweaters to games and cheered." Both Greenlaw and Reger agree that their favorite part of the job is interacting with the current student body. As an added bonus, the "Girls of Ames High" also have Popcorn Fridays in the main office and bring treats to the Wednesday morning staff meetings. "Working with the students is by far (my favorite part of my job)," Greenlaw said. "The second favorite part of my job is learning new skills. When I started in Ames Schools, all the technology was a bit daunting, but now I love figuring out how to make things work." Reger added, "It’s fun when a visitor comes in who is a former grad, and inevitably one of us will know that person or know of their family. Then we can talk about what it was like back when we were in school." The four women also enjoy getting together outside of work hours. "We go out for dinner and a movie a few times a year, " Reger said. "For a while we had a beading club where we would make jewelry and shoot the breeze with each other. We celebrate birthdays and Christmas together and have our own lunches on occasion. We’ve attended weddings of each other’s children, and we’ve supported each other by attending funerals of parents." Greenlaw added, "We enjoy each other’s company and joke and laugh a lot." Although a lot has changed within the walls of Ames High School, the "Girls of Ames High" hope some things have remained constant for students. "Friends made in high school stay with you and influence your lives in many ways," Greenlaw said. "That becomes clear as time goes on. My three years at Ames High were great–wonderful teachers, the opportunity to explore interests, an excellent education that prepared me well for college. I think about it as I walk through the halls and hope that our current students are having a positive experience."