“It’s just time”: CCIC Director Anne Hutchens retires after nine years at Whitman


Rohin Dahiya

CCIC Director Anne Hutchens retired after almost a decade of helping seniors develop post-graduation plans.

By Stephanie Solomon

Each school day since 2014, flocks of students have flooded into room #148 the College and Career Information Center (CCIC) armed with questions and concerns regarding the college admissions process. The cozy spot has welcomed students with a wall of college pennants, a desk overflowing with holiday gift baskets, pens, lollipops and the heartwarming smile of the woman behind it all: Anne Hutchens. 

After nine years of guiding thousands of students through the college admissions process and helping many others develop different post-graduation plans, CCIC Director Anne Hutchens retired on Friday. As the leader of the CCIC, Hutchens readily answered students’ college-related questions, sent transcripts to higher education institutions, organized college visits and reminded students to stay positive throughout the rigorous college application process.

Starting in 2002, Hutchens worked as a part-time secretary at Pyle Middle School for 12 years. When an opportunity to serve as the CCIC Director arose in 2014 at Whitman, she took a leap of faith and signed up for the job. The idea of working with older teenagers excited Hutchens; plus, she was already familiar with the Whitman community because she was a Whitman parent, she said.

“Whitman students are kind and considerate and polite,” Hutchens said. “They all come from different places and are going to different places.”

At the beginning of her career, Hutchens set a goal for herself: she was intent on easing students’ stress as they navigated the college application process. She wanted students to stay open-minded about the possibilities for higher education, and she made it a priority to expose students to colleges they may not have previously considered.

“It’s a very stressful time for students, and I wanted to help them keep it all in perspective and know that they really will be okay,” Hutchens said. “In the end, if I helped one student be less stressed, then I’ve done a good job.”

When senior Kailey Nothman applied to colleges this past fall, Nothman found that Hutchens kept her composed amid a process she felt was inherently anxiety-inducing. Hutchens even organized a few late transcripts for her.

“She always remains calm, even in her tone of voice, reminding students to take a deep breath,” Nothman said. “She never penalizes you for making a mistake, and whatever you ask for help with, she would just do it.”

Senior Ben Wang also noted Hutchens’ timeliness. Hutchens responded to emails “within the hour,” Wang said.

Photography teacher Mike Seymour, who met Hutchens 28 years ago when they were working together at Pyle, described Hutchens as “the most genuine person in the world.” Seymour said Hutchens’ sincerity was on full display during a time when he needed her the most.

In 1996, Seymour found himself in charge of a Pyle school dance. At 5:30 a.m. on the morning of the event, Seymour received a phone call from a relative informing him that another relative was close to passing away. Seymour knew he had to be with his family in upstate New York, and he turned to Hutchens for support.

“I called her in tears at six in the morning, and she told me, ‘Get in your truck and go. I got it,’” Seymour said. “I knew when I hung up that phone, I didn’t have to stress about it on the drive to New York because I knew for a fact she would get it done.”

Nothman said she felt disappointed when she heard that Hutchens was leaving Whitman, but she expressed gratitude for Hutchens’ guidance.

“I understand that she’s been here forever, and it’s time for her to move forward,” Nothman said. “I wish her the best.”

In past years, a number of former seniors have also appreciated Hutchens’ support during a demanding period in their lives. 

While many community members see Hutchens as the rock of the counseling department, she believes that whoever replaces her will bring an original approach to the CCIC.

“New blood is good. New energy in my position will be good,” Hutchens said. “They can bring skill sets that I don’t have, and freshness to the whole perspective of how the job’s done, and I think that’s good for the community.”

In retirement, Hutchens plans to spend time with her four grandchildren and volunteer for children in underserved communities.

 “For years, I thought, ‘What am I going to do in retirement?’ and worried, but I’m no longer worried about that,” Hutchens said. “It’s just time.”