Nuprathan "Nu" Ness started her first job in the Anchorage School District at East High School 28 years ago. Next Monday, she’s hanging up her apron.

A crowd of close to a baker's dozen — including ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop, Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth and East High principal Sam Spinella — surprised Ness before she clocked out on Tuesday.

“It means a lot,” Ness said. “This is my life.”

Ness is known for her motto, “Welcome to East!”

"She's kind of the kitchen mascot around here," said cafeteria manager Stacy Ostlund. "If anyone has a question we go to Nu. If I need her to help train new employees or interns, I go to Nu because I want it to be done right.”

The surprise was an unexpected one for Ness who thought she'd leave without much notice.

"She's the longest-serving employee in the department,” said ASD Senior Director of Student Nutrition Andy Mergens.

Ness helped serve about 1,000 meals daily, 172 days each year. In all, the district says she’s served over four million meals in the 28 years she’s worked at East High’s cafeteria.

She says her plans for the future are to go back to school, learn English, read and enjoy life.

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