By Seth Daniel
She could often be found roaming the hallways, or sitting at the front desk, of Revere High School (RHS), and more often than not, Paula ‘Bubba’ Stevenson was searching for students without their IDs or students that needed to be put back in line.
But the truth of the matter was the charismatic security officer at RHS, and before that at the Whelan School, was there to help encourage students and cheer them up with her trademark slogans: for boys it was “Hey Bubba,” and for girls, “Hey there Toots!”
Stevenson, 73, known affectionately as ‘Bubba’ to students at RHS, celebrated her last day at RHS last Friday, June 9, and was surprised with a short program and giant card presentation in the Learning Commons.
“I get invited to a lot of class reunions,” she said with a smile. “I’m going to miss the kids a lot and I mean that. Maybe they should be ready for me to come back a few times to visit. I can chase them around the halls in my wheelchair yelling at them for their IDs.”
Stevenson began her work in the Revere Public Schools splitting time between the Whelan School and the Lincoln School.
It was there that she cemented her slogans, calling the boys ‘Bubba’ and the girls “Tootsie Bell.” She also would call the kids “Magoo,” after the old cartoon ‘Mr. Magoo.’
“Mr. Magoo couldn’t see, couldn’t hear and couldn’t do anything right,” she said with a laugh. “Sound familiar around here? That’s where that one came from.”
After the elementary schools, they convinced her to come to the high school, which is where she stayed for the past 11 years jawing with students and coming to be a beloved member of the RHS community.
However, “Bubba” had a long life before RHS too.
She grew up in Revere and attended the former C.M. Barrows Elementary School, the McKinley Middle School and the old Revere High School.
After that, she moved away to California and eventually settled in Washington state where she had a job will Hills Brothers Coffee. Following that job, she worked for the City of Everett (Washington). As her mother became older, though, she decided to move back home to be closer.
It was a girlfriend of hers that convinced her to try working in the schools, and she quickly gained the backing of School Committeeman Fred Sannella and former Assistant Supt. Ann Marie Costa.
“My girlfriend was working there and she got me into it,” said Stevenson. “She said I should try working with young kids because I had a talent for working with them and they would listen to me. That’s how it all started. Of all the jobs I had and the things I did, this was the best by a long shot.”
She said students can still expect to see her at the games and at the JROTC banquets, but ‘Bubba’ will no longer be combing the halls for students caught without an ID.