SCHOOL'S out forever for Notre Dame's longest-serving member of staff.

Popular clerical assistant Marie Maclaren is enjoying her retirement after almost 45 years at the high school.

Marie, 65, said she had mixed feelings about leaving.

She said: "I got job satisfaction every day I worked at Notre Dame, I loved it.

"In one way I was happy to retire but in other ways I will miss my friends and colleagues and I will miss the children.

"Some of these children's grandparents were being taught in the school when I started here.

"My last day was quite emotional.

"I was trying to hold it together but by the afternoon I just went with the flow.

"The school has been such a big part of my life."

Marie, a stickler for detail, started with the County of Renfrew education committee in September 1974 at James Watt College and in total spent 44 years and eight months at the school, starting when it was located in Peat Road.

She's seen many changes over the years especially changes in technology.

Marie said: "When I started, it was old manual typewriters, now it's all IT skills and programs.

"All the old attendance registers had to be done manually and now it's all done electronically."

Marie is married to Ian, and they have a daughter Fiona, 27, and granddaughter Chloe who is seven.

She lives in her original family home where she grew up in Greenock.

Marie is looking forward to spending more time with her family.

She said: "Chloe makes her First Holy Communion next year, so I can help out with that and I can also pick her up from school some days."

Marie is an avid letter writer and has been corresponding to pen pals since she was 15.

With new-found free time on her hands she is meeting some of her friends in London for the first time next month.

Marie is also planning more trips and adventures when her pal retires.

She quips: "We're called Thelma and Louise and there will be a lot more getting about and travelling to see as much of the world as I can.

"The world's my oyster."

Marie enjoyed a party with family and friends at the Clyde Suite to mark her retirement, complete with a special 'pen pal' celebration cake.

As well as lovely gifts from her colleagues, Marie also received a long service certificate from Inverclyde Council and a monetary gift.

Head teacher Kate Couttie says Marie is very much missed as a big part of the school community.

She said: "Marie was very efficient and had very high standards.

"We are very sorry to see her go, she made a huge contribution to the school.

"Office staff are the first point of contact in person and on the phone and help to reassure a lot of parents who are perhaps apprehensive or need to speak to someone about a problem.

"Marie had all that knowledge of families and who is connected to who and we have all benefited enormously from that.

"When we see how happy she is, we feel she has done her bit for the school and it is time for someone else to take over."