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Discover Western Prince William June/July 2018
8
As a child, 90-year-old Lillian Orlich loved to
play "school." She was always the teacher and
her sister always the student. Even after 68
years in education, she hasn't gotten it out of
her system! Although she retired last year, Lillian
still goes into "work" every day as a volunteer
in the counseling offi ce at Osbourn Park High
School, where she spent most of her career.
Upon earning her master's degree from New
York University in 1950, this New York City
native received a phone call from the Prince
William County Schools' superintendent, who
offered her a job teaching high school English
and social studies. "I never did fi nd out how he
got my name," Lillian recalls, "but I thought it
might be an interesting experience. I had to break the news to my parents,
and my mom was very upset."
With suitcase in hand, Lillian took a leap of faith and boarded a train to
Manassas, Virginia, not knowing who was going to be there to meet her or
where she was going to live.
When she arrived at 11:00 p.m.,
fi rst grade teacher Carrie Mae
Price was waiting for her. "She
walked me to her home that
night, and I lived with her for
a while," Lillian says.
At the opening assembly on
the fi rst day of school, Lillian
recalls being introduced to the
students as a "damn Yankee."
It became her nickname for life.
"I was called that forevermore,
in a loving way," she adds.
In 1957, after teaching at
Osbourn High School for seven years, Lillian had a chance to do administrative
work in New Jersey and left Virginia for three years. In 1960, she was asked
to return to Osbourn to administer the county's fi rst Advanced Placement
(AP) program. She held that position for 10 years until making the decision
to move over to full-time counseling in 1970. The school moved into its
current school building in 1975, and
she worked in that location until her
"offi cial" retirement in June 2017.
Although retired, Lillian still has an
offi ce at the school, and it's fi lled with
a lifetime of mementos. To maintain
her high energy level, she sticks to her
routine of getting up at 4:00 a.m. and
reporting to the school by 6:00. She
credits the secret to her longevity and
sharp mind to "having a purpose, a
dedication that won't go away." Never
having married or having children of
her own, Lillian fi nds it hard to leave.
"This is my home; these students and
coworkers are my family," she states.
As a volunteer, she manages the school's Money
Tree scholarship program, meeting with college
reps and potential scholarship recipients.
With a love and appreciation for art and music,
Lillian attends all artistic and musical activities
at the school and in the community. Thanks to
her opera-singing mother, she is also a big fan
of theater, attending performances at the nearby
Hylton Performing Arts Center. She walks and
exercises at home because she knows she is
a role model and has to be "the best I can be."
Lillian's network of service providers, such as
her doctor, lawyer, accountant, and auto repair
person, to name a few, are all former students.
"We have an immediate connection," she explains. "We reminisce about the
good old days." She keeps up with many of them by attending class reunions.
In the future, Lillian looks forward to volunteering at the Manassas Museum,
Hylton Performing Arts Center, and/or the local library. "This has been a
great career and a great
life," she states, "but I'm
not done yet!"
L i l l i a n w a s r e c e n t l y
honored by over 100 of
her coworkers and former
students at her 9 0th
birthday party put on by
good friend and former
colleague, Toni Payne,
at the Harris Pavilion in
Old Town Manassas. In
celebrating her outstanding
service as a legendary
educator, former student
M a y o r H a l P a r r i s h
presented her with a certifi cate of proclamation on behalf of the Manassas
City Council, citing May 13, 2018 to be known as Ms. Lillian Orlich Day.
"Lillian Orlich is a teacher who is remembered for a lot of different reasons,"
Mayor Parrish says. "She had great expectations of the kids that she taught,
from doing homework to getting good
grades. She made a difference, and she
led me in many different ways. Even at
her birthday party, as we took a brief
walk to the other side of the pavilion
for the group photo, she corrected me.
When I said, `This is pretty cool,' she
responded, `No Hal, this is very cool!'"
Happy birthday, Lillian, and thank you for
your many years of teaching, mentoring,
inspiring, and supporting our students.
Your contribution to our community will
live on in future generations!
Lillian Orlich:
Still Playing "School" at Age 90
~ Lynnette Esse
Lillian Orlich and Mayor Hal Parrish
Mike Foley, teacher/coach, Lillian Orlich and Mayor Hal Parrish