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Class awarded Superintendent’s Teamwork Award

Harlan County Superintendent Brent Roark presented a Superintendent Teamwork Award to Hattie Horton’s medical transcription class during a Harlan County Board of Education meeting on Thursday night. The 12 students and teacher each received a certificate of achievement – a rare award given to those making a difference throughout the school district.

Roark said the class has been doing fundraisers for the past 10 years to raise money for Christmas presents that are given to two second-grade classes in the school district, with the second graders at Wallins being the recipients for 2019.

“They raise thousands of dollars and give the presents out to these kids, and the thing you note from it is they’re putting in their own time and effort to make Christmas better for two of our classes,” Roark said. “I’ve probably only gave two or three of the Superintendent Awards since I’ve been here – when someone just goes over and above what’s expected, does something that’s out-of-their-way kind for someone else or contributes greatly for our district.”

Roark said the award is to acknowledge the strides taken by the students and to set a standard for how others should strive to be.

He added the high school students are transported to the SKCTCS Harlan Campus twice a day to take part in Horton’s medical transcription class, which is one of the classes offered through Harlan County High School’s vocational program.

Horton’s class chooses a different second-grade group at different elementary schools each year to participate in their Christmas with Santa event, with Amy Cottrell and Brittany Helton’s classes being selected this year.

“This Christmas Party hosted by the employees at the Harlan campus has a reputation of being a big deal among our elementary schools, so when Mrs. Helton and I received the invitation we were so excited that this year was the year our second graders were going to get to attend this special event,” Cottrell said. “We were so blessed and we appreciate the work that was put in to make it a perfect day. We are grateful to the students in Mrs. Horton’s class who raised money and provided a Christmas gift from Santa for each of our students. Our students had a blast.”

Helton said she is also amazed at the kindness and generosity shown to the students, teacher and chaperones, adding “the students and employees went above and beyond to host such a wonderful event for our second graders.”

“We are grateful for all the fun activities that were planned along with the lunch and gifts that were presented to our kids. Thank you to everyone involved. Our students had a great day,” Helton said.

Roark said aside from the gifts, students were involved in numerous activities, including a coloring contest, face painting, fake tattoos, crafts and more. He added Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive to pass out the gifts – all from the money Horton’s students were able to fund-raise.

Horton was given a chance to speak on behalf of her students, who told the board she normally doesn’t like to speak in public but she’s “so proud of them that I have to speak.”

“Anything that I’ve asked, and I only have a class of 12, they do it. These students have impressed me so much because they’re seeing that it’s not about them, it’s what they’re doing for others,” Horton said. “As they were watching the students, I could see they would be forever changed because of this.”

Horton said she tells her class even if she’s unable to teach them medical transcription, “I want to teach you about life.”

Megan Hensley, one of Horton’s students, told the board about her experience helping with annual event, adding one of her biggest takeaways was watching the second-graders light up when they received their presents.

“I remember this one little boy looked at me and said ‘do you hear that?’ and I said no and asked him what it was. He said he thought he heard Santa’s sleigh land on the roof,” Hensley said. “He was just so excited, and that’s really what it meant to me.”

Another student, Peyton Brock, said giving is more than receiving and “it’s not about what’s under the tree, it’s about who is around it.”

“It was really an honor to do this. One little boy really stuck out to me, and it touched my heart,” said Emily Farley, one of Horton’s students. “We were all standing around and everyone was saying how excited they were for Santa, and this boy came around the corner and said ‘I’m just ready for Jesus.’”

Roark said this is the type of experiences he hopes his students continue to have.

“We can teach all the math, science and reading that we want to teach, but when you teach life lessons, that’s what they remember,” he said. “They may not remember what I taught in eighth grade or even last week, but they will remember what you did with them right here as long as they’re breathing.”

Roark presented each student with a certificate and posed for a group picture before continuing the meeting.