Dozens of friends, community members, school administrators, elected officials, former colleagues and students gathered Feb. 15 at Proviso Math and Science Academy to honor Molly Cavanaugh, a longtime secretary in the district, for her six decades of service. 

The big surprise of the night, though, was an announcement by District 209 Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez revealing Proviso West’s Little Theatre will be renamed Cavanaugh Theatre in Molly’s honor. 

“I took pride in our Proviso to make sure our students received nothing but the best,” said Cavanaugh, a 1954 graduate of Proviso East High School. “I hope you know I gave Proviso my all, I gave Proviso my best.” 

She says Proviso has been her home away from home and her extended family. “I have established relationships with people that will last a lifetime.”

In her decades of service, Cavanaugh has seen many principals cycle through the district. Her current boss, Oscar Hawthorne, Proviso West’s principal, told Cavanaugh she has been his mentor.

“When you become principal of a high school you learn to expect the unexpected,” Hawthorne said. “What I didn’t expect was to establish a relationship with someone that I grew to love.” 

When reached by phone Feb 16. Cavanaugh reflected on how her job has changed. Technology was one example and Cavanaugh reminisced about when the district bought its first computer.  

“We evolved in our jobs,” Cavanaugh said. “I remember thinking to myself ‘I’m gonna figure out how to work this thing.” 

Cavanaugh said she doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement. 

— Thomas Vogel