ST. GEORGE — Whether it was a volunteer who doesn’t let age slow her down or a community coming together to do their part in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, last week was filled with stories of how the people of Southern Utah truly shone.
Longtime volunteer Cleo Wardle receives special recognition
Cleo Wardle is 90 years old, but she doesn’t let age or the fact that she is unable to drive a car anymore stop her from volunteering at Heritage Elementary School.
For seven years, she has been volunteering at the school to help children learn how to read.
Wardle said her desire to help children read stems back to when she was in second grade.
“When I was a little kid in second grade, I couldn’t read, and it kind of embarrassed me,” Wardle said, “so I thought, ‘When I retire, I am going to go back to school and help children who don’t know how to read.'”
So that is exactly what she did.
Previous to the school dismissals because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wardle spent a couple hours each Monday reading one-on-one with kids who were in need of the extra attention.
When she reached a point where she was unable to drive a car, Wardle recruited her granddaughter to pick her up and drop her off so she was able to continue volunteering.
“I’ve had a success story every year,” she said.
Wardle was recently awarded the Outstanding Volunteer award from Heritage Elementary. With school dismissed, she was unable to be recognized in a public assembly, but her grandchildren were able to surprise her and deliver the award to her home.
Friends and family parade for residents at The Meadows
A collection of families made signs and carried flags and paraded around The Meadows assisted living facility in St. George to bring some cheer to the residents.
According to St. George resident Ilene Hacker, the families marched past the windows of each of the facility’s apartments where residents could be seen waving and peering through their windows. Some residents stood out on their porches to view the parade as well.
“They loved it,” Hacker told St. George News.
BeeHive Cottages holds ‘Day of Gratitude’ with barbecue and classic cars
After six weeks of quarantining in their homes, the residents of BeeHive Cottages senior independent living community were treated to a “Day of Gratitude” to celebrate their collective efforts to do their part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Homes were decorated in patriotic balloons and members of the Desert Rodders of Southern Utah paraded up and down the street while residents watched from their porches.
“I guess you could call it the ‘new normal’ kind of social distancing street party,” Mary Sanders, administrator for the independent living facility, said.
Residents were also treated to a catered barbecue.
Sanders said they were celebrating their residents but also all the members of the Southern Utah community who had supported BeeHive Cottages throughout the six weeks of quarantining.
“We are so grateful to the emergency response personnel here in St George, especially all the angels from Gold Cross Ambulance and Dixie Regional Hospital that have taken care of our residents with non-COVID related issues during these most difficult times,” Sanders said.
Sanders also expressed gratitude for the gifts of toilet paper, personal hygiene supplies, hand-sewn masks, puzzles, word puzzles, chocolate and more.
Elementary teacher delivers signs to all 64 of her students
Horizon Elementary School teacher Emily Holt delivered yard signs saying “My teacher misses me” to all 64 of her students, along with a “flat Mrs. Holt” in the spirit of the “Flat Stanley” character from the children’s book series by author Jeff Brown.
Holt also delivered Mother’s Day surprises for her students’ mothers.
With school dismissed throughout the end of the school year, teachers like Holt have gone above and beyond to ensure their students are receiving educational instruction and, perhaps most importantly, emotional support.
In a post to her Facebook page Holt described why she makes the extra effort:
We all have bad days. Knowing I could be there and help turn my student’s bad day around makes me beyond grateful to have the job that I do. To know there are moments that I truly can make a difference, even if it’s just turning a frown into a smile is beyond rewarding.
Lava Ridge Intermediate School hosts ‘Gila Hello’
Teachers and administrators at Lava Ridge Intermediate School hosted a “Gila Hello” in the parking lot of Gubler Park in Santa Clara as a way to say both hello and goodbye to their students, many of whom will be leaving the intermediate school for middle school when the next school year starts.
Teachers made signs, blasted music, waved and said hello to their students as they were driven through the lot in a socially distant parade.
Students who came to the parade wore school spirit shirts bearing their Gila Monster mascot and the school’s motto of “Stand 4 Kind.”
Language Arts teacher Rachel Robins said in an Instagram post that the event was an emotional one for her.
“I had sunglasses on to hide the tears. Thank you to those who were able to come our and see us. I love and miss you,” Robins said.
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