Governor reads to young leaders at LaVerkin Elementary

LAVERKIN — Students at LaVerkin Elementary School received a special visit from Gov. Gary Herbert Thursday, the crowning moment of the school’s yearlong “Read to Lead” challenge.

“You’ve got great teachers, you’ve got great parents, you’ve got great leaders to help you become leaders,” the governor said in an inspirational address to the schoolchildren in assembly.

Gov. Gary Herbert visited LaVerkin Elementary after the students issued a reading challenge to Herbert and numerous other celebrities and public figures. LaVerkin, Utah, May 12, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Gov. Gary Herbert visited LaVerkin Elementary after the students issued a reading challenge to Herbert and numerous other celebrities and public figures. LaVerkin, Utah, May 12, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Put down your electronic devices, he said, and take time to pick up a book, promising them they will be better off if they do.

He also emphasized the importance of getting a quality education in order to be qualified for better jobs as adults.

Thursday represented the climax to LaVerkin Elementary’s yearlong reading challenge that awarded students what it called honorary associate, bachelor’s and master’s  degrees at key milestones along the way. At its conclusion Thursday, he kids were rewarded with doctorate degrees.

Herbert’s visit came in response to a friendly “call out” he received from the kids earlier this year challenging him and the first lady to come read to them.

 

Herbert arrived in an SUV with his wife, Jeanette Herbert, his assistants and security detail. He was introduced to the school by Principal Steve Leavenworth and other faculty and administrators, then led inside where he shook hands with children, autographed his picture on a montage entitled “Legendary Leaders” in the hallway and took a brief tour of the school.

The governor and first lady then joined a kindergarten class where they each read a book to the children, meeting the schoolchildren’s challenge.


Read more: Will Piano Guys, David Archuleta accept LaVerkin Elementary’s reading challenge? Governor, BYU football accept


This is a once in a lifetime (opportunity),” Leavenworth said of the governor’s visit. “I hope the kids realize that. I think we as adults are pretty excited that he would take a moment for us – little LaVerkin, Utah – take a moment in his busy schedule to show kids that they can be leaders by reading. We’re just excited.”

Having Gary Herbert on hand to accept the challenge and visit the school made him very proud of the students.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert visited LaVerkin Elementary after the students issued a reading challenge to Herbert and numerous other celebrities and public figures. LaVerkin, Utah, May 12, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Gov. Gary Herbert visited LaVerkin Elementary after the students issued a reading challenge to Herbert and numerous other celebrities and public figures. LaVerkin, Utah, May 12, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“Words aren’t enough,” the governor said, “just really appreciate them and can’t say enough about how great these kids are.”

Gary Herbert told the students how a fourth-grade teacher introduced his class to “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain and then challenged him and his fellow students to get a library card and read “Huckleberry Finn” on their own. He got his first library card shortly after, he said, and the influence of that teacher helped to make him a lifelong book lover.

“I’ve loved to read ever since,” he said. “I have a very vast, extensive library. I love to read, I read every day.”

The students also challenged members of the BYU football team, who visited them last week. Other challengers responding Thursday included country singer Eric Dodge, Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich, Miss Utah, Krissia Beatty, and KSL-TV anchor Nadine Wimmer. Wimmer got Thursday’s fanfare off to a dramatic and cheering start by arriving in her station’s helicopter.

The lineup of “stars” took a celebratory circuit through the school, giving high-fives to nearly every student there. Afterward, Gary Herbert joined other guests at an assembly where they were introduced and honored before the cheering children.

Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson was also on hand for the tour and said LaVerkin Elementary is a great school with great staff, students and leadership. Their reading challenge, he said, was a great way to show the governor the quality of Southern Utah education.

“I think it’s an opportunity to get the governor down here and showcase them (LaVerkin Elementary students) and let the kids get to see some true leaders in the state,” Iverson said. “But also, we have a lot of young leaders in the school, so it’s fantastic.”

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Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

 

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