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Teachers treated to lesson of love

PENDELTON – As each of them were paraded around the gymnasium, they gave high fives and waved to their adoring—and sometimes deafening—fans.

No, George Clooney and Nicole Kidman were not in town to promote the latest Hollywood film.

These 25 celebrities were more local to the area and classrooms serve as their stages.

On Thursday, Willis Hare Elementary held its first Teacher Appreciation Day in association with National Teachers Appreciation Week.

Teacher Appreciation Day reportedly started when Eleanor Roosevelt pushed the 81st Congress to set a day aside for teachers, after receiving a letter from Mattye Whyte Woodridge.

Teacher Appreciation Day was never declared by Congress until 1980 (but for only that year) after lobbying by the National Education Association, which has continued the observation of the non-official holiday.

“Teacher Appreciation Day recognizes them in a special way,” said Willis Hare Principal Reginald Ennett.

Teachers, students and parents were treated to entertainment by singer Laura Alford, the Northampton County High School East Drum Corp and Willis Hare’s own step team.

“I want to thank (the teachers), you guys pick up where we (parents) often lack,” said Alford, who has children that attend the school, before beginning a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.”

Oscar Spaulding, a former Willis Hare principal, crossed the road from his home to the school to be the guest speaker of the event.

“Teachers are like a housewife, their work is never done,” he said.

Beginning in the early 1950s, Spaulding served 30 years as principal at Willis Hare and saw it transform from a school that used to educate grades K-12 to an elementary school.

“I hate to say it but teachers don’t get as much as they deserve,” said Spaulding.

Ennett also announced the beginning of the Oscar Spaulding Scholarship, a $100 scholarship that will be given to a Willis Hare student each year.

Ennett said criteria are yet to be decided on for the scholarship, but the recipient would likely be in the fifth grade.

But the day truly belonged to the teachers who were ushered up to the podium individually to receive a certificate of appreciation and a carnation.

Students screeched and clamored to touch their favorite teacher’s hand as they walked by.

“It was very inspiring,” said Marianna Cotton, who teaches second grade. “It showed (the students) they’re important to us and we’re important to them.”

Patricia Dickens, who also teaches second grade, agreed

“It was a fantastic day, we’ve never has this much attention,” she said. “I think everything was awesome.”

Teacher Assistant Mary Matthews, who will be retiring at the end of the year, was honored for her 31 years in education.

Matthews said she was a little shocked when she was singled out to give a speech at the assembly.

“But I thought what the heck,” she said. “It made me feel special.”

Grandmother Valara Wilson stopped in to see her grandson, Matthew Smith, perform on the step team.

Wilson saw Teachers Appreciation Day as an important lesson for all of the students.

“It teaches them that if you stand strong and continue to hold strong you’ll receive recognition for it,” she said.