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Committed to service: Employee celebrates 42 years with Poplarville High School

dedicated team: Pictured from left is Jeanette Burge, Mary Howell, Marlo McInnis, Bertha Rogers, Dawn Tagert and Candice Furr. For the past 42 years, McInnis has worked in the cafeteria at Poplarville High School.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

dedicated team: Pictured from left is Jeanette Burge, Mary Howell, Marlo McInnis, Bertha Rogers, Dawn Tagert and Candice Furr. For the past 42 years, McInnis has worked in the cafeteria at Poplarville High School.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


For the past 42 years, students at Poplarville High School have had the pleasure of sharing their school lunch break with cafeteria main cook and server Marlo McInnis.
Since 1973, McInnis and her culinary skills have been a staple at the high school cafeteria.
McInnis is a native of Fargo, N.D. She is one of eight children and also has a twin sister. When she was 18-years-old her family moved to California where she met her husband, Navy veteran George.
About 45 years ago, the pair along with their two children, Tammy and Chris, moved to Poplarville.
“The maintenance man told my husband about a job opening at the school’s cafeteria,” McInnis said. “I began my employment here as a meat cook. I also washed dishes, served and mopped floors.”
McInnis said this was her first job working with the public and she loves everything about it. Her favorite part of the job is challenging herself with new recipes.
“I love the children,” McInnis said. “I’ve seen a number of them come and go. There’s nothing I don’t like about this job.”
Thursday is fried chicken day and McInnis said she arrives early to get the chicken out and ready to fry. She also gets the corn ready and serves lunch to the students. After lunch, McInnis cleans the counters, wipes down the tables and sweeps and mops.
Her favorite meal to cook is fried chicken.
McInnis said she loves working with her co-workers.
“They are easy to get along with and I have no complaints,” McInnis said. “I usually like to do my own work, but when I’m in a bind, they all pitch in to help.”
During her 42-year tenure, McInnis said she has only missed about seven days of work.
She is also a big Hornets fan and loves attending the homecoming games. Not only does she dress up for the glitzy occasion, but also dons a costume for each holiday.
During her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes four grandchildren. She likes to crochet and said she is addicted to the games on her phone. Each summer she visits her twin sister in Oklahoma.
Dalton Spiers is a junior this year and said he sees McInnis everyday during breakfast and lunch.
“I always try to get my lunch from her side because she is so sweet,” Spiers said. “She has this positive energy and is pretty dedicated to stay here for 42 years.”
Senior Lori Stewart said McInnis is really nice and always tries to thank her for the hard work she does for the school.
“She’s polite and always makes the best food for us,” Stewart said.
Bertha Rogers has worked with McInnis for the past five years and she is very good at her job and a sweet, caring and considerate person.
“Her cooking is very good and one my favorite things she prepares is fried chicken,” Rogers said. “It takes a lot of courage and patience to work somewhere for 42 years. She is good with the children and loves what she does.”
From 1991 to 2012, high school janitor Nell Hickmann worked in the cafeteria with McInnis.
“She taught me how to make rolls and watch my pots,” Hickmann said. “She’s a great person who is dedicated to her job. She arrives to work early and barely misses any days. My favorite thing she cooks is chili. I hope she doesn’t retire anytime soon.”
Poplarville High School cafeteria manager Dawn Tagert has worked with McInnis for the past 11 years and refers to her as her “sunshine.”
“She is a person anyone can look up to,” Tagert said. “She’s inspirational, caring and has a very tender heart. She comes in and can work circles around everyone.”
Tagert said McInnis knows her job and gets it done. It’s hard to pinpoint one favorite dish, Tagert said, but two of her favorites are the fried chicken and chili.
“Her 42-year employment is amazing and something you don’t find often,” Tagert said. “She’s dedicated and won’t take days off. She’s a star in my book.”
Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt worked with McInnis during his tenure as high school principal.
“For someone to stay around that long means that they love what they are doing and, in essence, loves being around children,” Merritt said. “It’s hard to find anyone that can stick to one profession for that long. She consistently shows up and does her job well. She is a great and quality person for the children to look up to. She is a tremendous plus to our food service program.”
McInnis plans to reach her 50-years of service goal and aims to commemorate the occasion with a gold cooking cart.