MINOT — When the Minot Consolidated School opens again in September there will be, for the first time in 29 years, no Jan Wilkinson in the front office.

Janet Wilkinson, principal’s secretary for 29 years — and the only principal’s secretary the school has known — will be gone, her position eliminated as the schools in Minot, Mechanic Falls and Poland became Regional School Unit 16 in compliance with the state’s new school consolidation law.

Last weekend the Community Club threw a party to honor and thank Wilkinson, and it was at that gathering in the school gymnasium that past and present students, parents and school staff were thanked in turn.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave. After three generations, an average of 200 students a year, to co-workers who have been like family, the parents and residents of Minot, I thank you for allowing me the opportunity of having the best job in the world,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson recalled September, 1980, when the school building had only eight classrooms, two small rooms for speech therapy and special education, an auditorium/lunchroom — with a stage, and an office/teachers’ room.

At that time, there were about 135 students and a total school staff of 17.

“There were only two phones in the building and no intercom system. I took messages and delivered them on foot,” Wilkinson said.

She was coach for the girls’ softball teams, was active in the Girl Scouts, has held every position in the Community Club, and for many years, did nursing duties.

“I remember learning now to drive a school bus, just in case I was needed, and cleaning out the school in the summer and then, come August, put on my secretary hat to start another year. Those were the good old days,” she added.

The school population grew, topping out at 310 students, and the school grew with it; with a series of portable classrooms and additions, swelling the number of classrooms to 23, and the addition of a library, and a computer lab. The school now has 49 staff members.

Wilkinson saw the school computerized, which greatly changed her duties. Phones were installed, in all the rooms, as well as an intercom, security cameras and a lock door system. But for 29 years she has held steady as people’s first contact within the school.

“I totally appreciate her dedication and service to the children of Minot. She always went beyond the requirements of her position,” Selectman Eda Tripp said.

“Jan was an immeasurable help to me,” said Don Bilodeau, principal for nine years when school growth was at its greatest.

The school is now dealing with declining enrollment.

On Saturday, special education teacher Joan Dyer presented Wilkinson with a hug and a large hand-made card signed by every one of the school’s 257 students — she said it took her several days to chase them all down.

And Jan Wilkinson wants to remember every one of them.