WHS Nurse retires after a lifetime of following her dream


Photo by Jacob Wendler

WHS Nurse Carole Stavitski

Nursing was always in Carole Stavitski’s blood, a childhood dream that became her lifelong mission.

She has now been a nurse for a total of 52 years, 36 of those at WHS and she plans to continue nursing in some way even after her retirement at the end of this school year.

“I love being a nurse,” she says. “I love the feeling of knowing that I have helped someone. Nursing is my passion in life and I could not imagine myself in any other profession.”

Stavitski joined WHS when it had just 1,200 students and there were just two floors – the science wing came later.

Her career spans a time from the terror of HIV/AIDS to the current COVID-19 pandemic. She has seen the arrival of worrying trends such as vaping, but also the welcome rise in awareness of mental health issues.

Stavitski made a conscious decision to specialize in school nursing.

“I chose to become certified in school nursing because I love kids,” she said. “The health of every kid is precious but there is something special about kids in high school. Dealing with mental health and physical health is very important when working with the high school population. Every kid comes to the Health Office for a reason.”

Before she became a school nurse, Stavitski started out as a young nurse in the Special Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit of Overlook Hospital. 

One of her most vivid memories of that time is of a high school athlete who was seriously injured in a car crash.

“His right thigh was crushed and became seriously infected. I don’t think he realized how badly his future could be impacted,” she said.

After he was transferred out of the ward, she was left wondering what happened to him.

“A couple of years later I was in the parking lot of 7-11 when a car full of happy, loud laughing high school kids pulled in with music blaring. They had just won a football game. One of them jumped out and shouted, ‘Nurse, hey nurse!’ It was the high school athlete who was not only walking again but playing football.” 

Stavitski said the best part of nursing was interacting with and helping others, and being a part of the evolving health of others.

She added, “For me, there never was a ‘worst’ part of being a nurse. Never. Even during the saddest times, I always felt that there was something that could be done to comfort others with compassion.”

Stavitski says she will miss everyone at WHS, the students and the staff, but one thing she definitely won’t miss is the early mornings.

She has many plans for her retirement. She plans to learn glass-blowing and how to bake bread, spend time walking her dogs, London and Crackerjack, continuing to keep fit and, most importantly, spending time with her four grandchildren.

Nursing will continue to play a part in Stavitski’s life. She says she will probably be teaching, passing on what she has learned in over half a century of nursing to the next generation.