Lillian Orlich left a $1 million donation for SPARK, Prince William County Public Schools’ schooling basis.

WTOP’s Scott Gelman shares the story of a longtime Prince William County educator’s demise, and her lasting present to Northern Virginia youngsters.

When Pamela Gardner was employed as a college counselor at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Virginia, in 2006, she got here into the varsity over the summer time to get acclimated.

There weren’t some other counselors on campus past Lillian Orlich. Gardner remembers being stunned that somebody was there when faculty wasn’t in session. Orlich launched herself, explaining that she was from New York and was somebody “they’d name a Damn Yankee,” Gardner stated.

Orlich was so devoted to her position as an educator that she instructed Gardner she’d in all probability die within the faculty constructing.

Initially, Gardner was shocked, however within the subsequent years, she realized it’s simply who Orlich was. She labored each day, beginning at 3 a.m., to ensure she completed her paperwork. That approach, she’d be capable to concentrate on her college students.

“She was very enthusiastic about schooling, and simply college students normally,” Gardner, now the director of faculty counseling, stated. “She simply cherished Osbourn Park.”

Lillian Orlich exterior the auditorium that bears her identify. (Courtesy PWCS)

After a long time working as a instructor and counselor, Orlich lastly retired in 2017, at 89 years previous. But even then, she got here to work each day for the subsequent yr.

Orlich died on March 7 and is leaving her college students with one final present: a $1 million donation for SPARK, Prince William County Public Schools’ schooling basis.

“Anybody that got here in touch together with her, it was all the time a constructive expertise,” Gardner stated. “She all the time tried to seek out the nice in everyone. In the 15 years that she labored right here, and even after she left, I nonetheless continued to go go to her.”

Last yr, Gardner stated some individuals from the varsity helped throw Orlich a ninety fifth celebration. The refrain college students sang, and dozens of individuals attended. It was an odd feeling for Orlich, Gardner recalled, who centered on serving to individuals and staying out of the highlight.

“She was tickled to demise,” Gardner stated. “She was like, ‘Oh my gosh! All this for little ole’ me?’ That is a testomony to her as an individual and the legacy and impression that she’s had on individuals normally.”

Orlich’s lasting legacy

That impression, Gardner stated, is widespread. She was an educator for therefore lengthy, she ended up educating a number of generations of the identical individuals.

She began her days at 3 a.m., and often left round 4:30 p.m. Every Monday, she introduced in meals for school and workers.

Orlich stayed on high of scholars with attendance points, calling them each morning and reminding them in regards to the significance of going to class. The message went past the decision, although. She requested the scholars cease by and see her, to truly show that they had been in class.

“That for me stood out, as a result of not lots of people truly take the time to take a position that type of time and power into college students,” Gardner stated.

Orlich additionally labored to ensure each pupil had a plan, whether or not it was selecting faculty or a profession after commencement.

“She all the time needed to guarantee that youngsters had alternatives,” Gardner stated.

Shortly after Orlich retired, the varsity district established the Lillian Orlich Scholarship Fund. It’s awarded to 2 Osbourn Park High seniors to obtain a scholarship to attend the school of their alternative.

“She needed to guarantee that it was one thing that may be lengthy withstanding, sustainable, and it could be sure that our college students would be capable to profit for postsecondary schooling,” stated Dawn Davis, govt director of SPARK, the schooling basis.

The basis has six focus areas: educator preparedness, STEM schooling, social and emotional studying, initiative and digital citizenship, profession pathways to international residents and partnerships to highschool enchancment.

The basis discovered it could be getting a “potential vital present” from Orlich’s property, however Davis stated it was unaware of the precise quantity.

“When she left the cash, I wasn’t stunned in any respect,” Gardner instructed WTOP, “as a result of I stated, ‘That’s her legacy.’”

In an announcement, Superintendent LaTanya McDade stated the “footprints she’s left in our hearts and minds can by no means be erased.”

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