by Peter Carruthers
WHAT started as a two year trip to North Queensland turned into a 40 year career at the Proserpine High School for Sandy Nicholls.
Sandy first moved to Proserpine, from Canada, in 1975 after her husband, Rob, got a job at the Proserpine State High School.
She offered her services as a volunteer to the high school science labs - who didn't want her as a volunteer but instead offered Sandy a job.
Forty years on, Sandy has hung up the lab coat, a decision a long time in the making but one she feels is now right.
Over the years Sandy said she had made some very close connections with the facility at the school and it was with a heavy heart that she left the place behind.
Sandy said she opted for a low key send off and asked that money used by the facility to buy a farewell gift that could be donated to the Biggest Morning Tea cancer fundraiser, hosted last Friday.
Her last day at the school was planned to coincide with Easter but damage to the school in the wake of Cyclone Debbie meant she was asked to push her retirement back a few weeks.
"That happened gradually and it made it easier for me to go," she said.
After the long process leading up to the decision to leave the school, which was compounded by the clean up after the cyclone, Sandy said she was now relieved to have finally come to the end of the Proserpine High School chapter in her life.
"I finally knew it was time and it was alright to go and I had other things to do" she said.
"It's hard when your identity has been through the high school.
"That was my identity here: I was a high school person and now I am not. I am just me."
Sandy and her husband now plan to travel.
They have a trip to England to visit new family and to visit old family in Canada.