LaVerkin students raise thousands for village school

LAVERKIN — Thanks to the efforts of more than 20 sponsors and the fundraising titans who attend LaVerkin Elementary a remote village school in Guatemala will be issued school books – for the very first time.

Pamela Hamm spoke at the Leadership Day assembly at LaVerkin Elementary Thursday, LaVerkin, Utah, March 30, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

A Leadership Day event was held at LaVerkin Elementary School Thursday morning where approximately 20 local leaders were honored during an assembly presented by 5th grade LaVerkin Elementary students.

The event included a parade that was attended by all students, sponsors and staff, along with officers from the LaVerkin Police Department who cordoned off the parade route and led the procession with lights and sirens activated.

The school and sponsors were also celebrating the amount raised during the campaign, which totaled $4,302, according to information obtained during the assembly.

“It was a fantastic event,” Laverkin Elementary School Principal Steve Leavenworth said, “having community leaders come and spend some time with our kids, and donate money for every minute these kids read.”

Last year, he said, the school was focusing on leaders in the state of Utah. This year they had bigger dreams.

“We wanted to broaden our horizons and thought, ‘Wow, why don’t we help the world?'” Leavenworth said.

The school participates in various fundraising endeavors and this year a tiny village in Central America will be furnished with text and library books purchased with the money raised. Many of the students in the village school have never seen a text book, let alone used one in their studies, Pamela Hamm said.

Hamm and her family travel to South America a few times each year and have done so for nearly 10 years to help impoverished villages and communities in different areas throughout Central and South America.

A parade led by officers from LaVerkin Police Department followed the assembly at the Leadership Day assembly at LaVerkin Elementary Thursday, LaVerkin, Utah, March 30, 2017 |  Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Each class was sponsored by a local leader in the community and donated funds based on a reading program involving each student during the campaign.

The sponsors included local business owners and leaders in communities throughout Washington County, Hamm said, as well as Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, who also participated.

“Our class raised money for the library in Guatemala, because their library is really small and they don’t have any books,” Whitnie Esplin, Laverkin Elementary School 5th grade student, said.

Esplin likes meeting new people and said the program allows her to learn something new each day.

Another 5th grade student, Brecken Little, spoke of his involvement with the event along with his efforts to support the cause.

“I think it’s all of the stuff we do for the school and for our community, like ‘Read to Lead.’ It’s pretty cool,” Little said.

Fifth grade students participating on a school committee organized and hosted the assembly, LaVerkin Elementary School counselor Linda Stewart said. From start to finish, the students coordinate and schedule the activities themselves.

Many of the students spoke in front of a crowd of several hundred during the event, which is one of the goals of the leadership program, Sandi Gubler, who works in administration at LaVerkin Elementary, said.

The student choir sings at the LaVerkin Elementary Leadership Day assembly at LaVerkin Elementary Thursday, LaVerkin, Utah, March 30, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“The goal is for the students to run it, with our guidance,” Gubler added.

Aaron Evans, a 5th grade student and assembly committee member, described what he enjoyed most about the celebration.

“I would probably say being able to do the assemblies,” Evans said, “and to help the kids in our school.”

Hamm outlined the conditions in Guatemala during the assembly and 5th grade student Courtney Reeve said she was grateful for the fundraiser.

“I think it helps kids,” she said. “And I really like that we can help people and can tell people what we are doing.”

The village is an eight hour drive from anywhere. Even with the remote location, the village is still a hub for multiple smaller villages as well as providing education to 202 students who attend the school, Hamm said.

“Books will help students for years to come,” she said, “so this is a gift that can benefit generations of children, not just one class or a single school year.”

Hamm is taking a trip to Guatemala in June and will purchase the books and hand deliver them to the schools, she said. There is presently no library in the school and these children have no access to books.

She also said the amount raised more than exceeded anything she envisioned, and 100 percent of the funds will be put towards purchasing books and materials to set up the library.

Additionally, the amount raised will allow them to provide books to more students, and possibly additional schools.

Hamm also explained that the costs associated with supplying the school and library have yet to be determined, because pricing differs from what would be found here in the states, she said.

“I just think it’s so important for these kids to be able to go to the library and read a book on a subject that interests them, or something they find fun,” Hamm said.

LaVerkin Elementary participates in the “Leader In Me” program based on Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits. Each month the students focus on one habit, which teaches them how to become leaders throughout their academic career. Leadership roles are offered school wide in a variety of areas, giving each child a chance to see the leader in themselves, according to information provided by the Washington County School District.

“We are just trying to make a difference, and it’s great for our kids to see local leaders stepping up and helping the world around them,” Leavenworth said.

The Leader in Me is Franklin Covey’s whole school transformation process. It teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

Since its official launch in 2009, over 3,000 public, private, charter and magnet schools across 50 countries have adopted “The Leader in Me” process. For more information about this program click here.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Proud Rebel March 31, 2017 at 9:35 am

    What a wonderful way to teach the kids to give back, or pay it forward, or whatever you want to call it! Many thanks to the kids and staff at La Verkin Elementary, and to all the sponsors!
    And thank you SG News for publicating this!

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