The hallways of Gridley High School were a little dim on Monday when students returned after the holiday break because one very important person was missing. Known as someone who would light up any room with her high wattage smile and bright disposition, Brenda Thomas has retired from Gridley High School after 25 years. Thomas found the perfect niche for her after working two years as a Teachers Aide – that of ASB Activities Director. Nowhere could Thomas have found a job more suited to her and more beneficial to teenagers. Gridley High's Leadership Class is extremely active and it is because of Thomas' strength and guidance that the students want to take on as much as they do. Each August a retreat is held for the Leadership officers and another one for the Leadership students to begin the new year. The Leadership group starts volunteering before the new school year begins when they help at the Butte County Fair and during that time they plan and coordinate the Freshman Orientation. The list of activities for this group that Thomas oversaw is endless with several items each month. The largest projects would be the Every 15 Minutes anti alcohol/anti drug activity, the Haunted Crack House, the Lady Bulldog Holiday Classic and GIBT. Homecoming is a big activity that Thomas says she can't stay away from so she is already stating she will be back to help with the three nights of float building, parade, rally, queen coronation and dance. The community benefits from the Leadership group in so many different ways whether it be setting up American flags at the Gridley-Biggs Cemetery for Memorial Day or helping with dinners at the Moose Lodge. The students also help the Gridley Recreation Department with the Halloween Carnival and Gridley Lions Club with the Easter Egg hunt each year. How Thomas will slow down after this steady pace, including numerous events not mentioned, has yet to be seen. Of course the most important item on her retirement bucket list is to see much more of her 13 grandchildren. She and her husband Wayne also plan to travel the USA and Europe if possible. Typical of her sense of humor, Thomas says she will spend time “straightening 34 years of closet stuffing.” Always wanting to be a life-long learner, Thomas plans to get her college degree in history. With all good things about retirement that must come, some sadness must also, such as the students she will miss. She shared countless friendships over the years and lately has seen herself working with the children of some of her earliest students. Thomas is proud of the things she has learned from her students over the years – such as: “1. Teenagers aren't finished. They sometimes need someone to open their paradigm; “2. Never judge a student by what they wear on the outside,” Thomas stated explaining that she could see the other side of kids, other than what was perceived. Over the years, the lessons the students learned from Thomas would be endless. The Leadership classroom is one that cannot be duplicated. The students have been allowed to sign their names on the walls, ceiling and windows over the years, bringing a smile to Thomas' face as she relives the times when these kids were a part of her everyday life. Glitter was a big factor in cleaning the classroom last week with the floor usually being covered – which inspired “The Glitter Poem” by GHS student Maddie Brown in 2007 that hangs laminated on a wall. “Glitter, glitter, everywhere Strangers often stop to stare. Into every nook & cranny it does disperse When I get home, it's in my purse. Silver red, gold & blue That darn glitter Won't get out of my shoe! Our Mom's have to scrub, dust, mop and broom When we come home from Mrs. Thomas' room. In my pockets and my hair, Glitter, Glitter, Everywhere!” Thomas has stayed in touch with many of her students thanks to social media and has heard from many since her retirement of December 20, 2013 was announced. “It was delightful to hear from them,” she stated. A touching send-off was part of the GIBT rally at Farmers Hall last month with of course her favorite Beach Boys songs. “Dancing more,” also appears on her bucket list, (“Preferably to the Beach Boys). She won't be entirely away from local teens as she will work with 12 and 13 year old girls at her church. One of her favorite times working at the high school was when her own two children were students there. “It's been so much fun. I couldn't have had a better job,” Thomas said.