LaVerkin Elementary reminds parents to read after 40 years of raising ‘cubs’

LAVERKIN — LaVerkin Elementary School celebrated 40 years of teaching students and raising “cubs” and is asking for cooperative effort from “Papa and Mama Bears.”

LaVerkin Elementary celebrated its 40th anniversary with dancing and more at LaVerkin, Utah, Aug. 11, 2023 | Photo courtesy of LaVerkin Elementary, St. George News

Principal Gabbi Young says it is a fantastic feat for the school to have been around for 40 years in the small community just north of Hurricane.

However, she said there are challenges for the school. One such challenge, according to state stats, the school is the lowest academically for Washington County.

However, she’s seen how students can greatly improve with help at home. She said the raising of her “cubs” is a “cooperative effort” between parents and the school.

“One of the biggest things that would help is parents reading at home,” she said. By parents reading every day or night, students can perform better in school.

She said it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time.

“This is a great place,” she said. “Deeply rooted in tradition and history. This is big here.”

LaVerkin Elementary tries to keep local tradition by offering an October dance festival, taking victory laps every month and celebrating the success of the students.

“We are changing some things and taking things into account,” she said. “We got some new support and resources coming into the school.”

She did say it has been hard to get volunteers to help out at the school, but they are seeing improvements.

“The PTO has been really strong, stepping up to assist with the needs of these students,” she said.

Young has been the principal for two years . She was preceded by four other principals in the lifetime of the school.

File photo of LaVerkin Elementary in 1983 is on display at the school LaVerkin, Utah, Date unspecified | Photo courtesy of LaVerkin Elementary, St. George News

Previous principals were Charlene Mendoza (1983-2001), Max Tolman (2001-06, Nadine Hancey (2006-09), Steven Leavenworth (2009-22). Leavenworth is now the principal at Riverside Elementary.

According to “The History of LaVerkin” by Victor Hall, a historical record, the town had an original small schoolhouse that taught K-12 built in 1904 and school started in January 1905. The building would serve as the center for all community functions until 1926 when a chapel was completed. The schoolhouse would meet its demise in 1938 after the foundation succumbed to damage from irrigation water.

LaVerkin children were bussed to Hurricane for school. Young said the anniversary celebrates the current location and building at 51 W. Center St. The official dedication and opening took place on Aug. 23, 1983.

As part of the celebration, on Aug. 11, students participated in a “Name our Mascot” contest. The top names were for the cuddly cub were chosen and now students are voting for their favorite. A few of the top names selected include: Cosmo, Stripes, Chester and Paws.

This year has been focusing on leadership skills and has implemented Stephen R. Covey’s award-winning program, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, Young added.

“Students are owning who they are and who they want to become,” she said. “We are building leaders here.”

The school has implemented various extracurricular activities to help students progress. These include STEM clubs, a chess club and a theatre club.

LaVerkin Elementary celebrated its 40th anniversary with the “Name our Mascot” contest at LaVerkin, Utah, Aug. 11, 2023 | Photo courtesy of LaVerkin Elementary, St. George News

They have coordinated student committees to help as well. One of the students’ favorites is the Kindness Committee, which recognizes other students performing outstanding acts of kindness and leadership.

“Almost every student is on a committee,” she said.

Young stressed how things are changing for the better as they have several staff recognized as “Best Teachers on the Planet.”

First-grade teacher Miranda Schear has received the STEM Awards for Math Teacher of the Year for K-6 Grades by Southern Utah University, Utah Tech University, Southwest Technical College and Dixie Technical College.

“One of the things our school really focuses on is when you focus on the good the good gets better,” Young said.

She said the school will continue to celebrate the rest of this year by continuing to focus on the good and making historical positive changes.

“LaVerkin Elementary is so good at celebrating those small and big accomplishments with our students and we just want to say thank you for 40 years,” Young said.

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