It was a morning of positivity and service in Caliente last Tuesday.
Caliente Elementary hosted a variety of state and local officials and philanthropists, as well as Lincoln County’s elementary students, teachers and staff for a Community Day.
Principal Cherry Florence came up with the idea and asked the community to give back and teach the kids about safety.
The event was highlighted by a visit from philanthropists Robert and Sandy Ellis of Henderson. The couple has contributed more than $1 million to schools and charities and are known for providing shoes for school children. They brought three women from Payless Shoes to measure shoe sizes for all elementary children from Caliente, Pahranagat Valley, Panaca and Pioche. Shoes, socks and toys will be delivered to the schools in late November.
“Sandy and I don’t know where to start thanking everyone for one of the best enjoyable days of our lives at the community event,” Robert Ellis said in an email. “We felt like movie or rock stars, we were treated better than the Pope in New York City but that doesn’t surprise us as everyone in Lincoln County we have met are friendly, polite and courteous.”
This isn’t the first time the Ellises have donated to Lincoln County’s kids. They bought Christmas toys for Caliente Elementary School students three years ago and then discovered there were four other elementary schools in the county. So they donated tennis shoes, two pairs of socks and a toy to every elementary student in the school district.
The couple also sponsored Rachel’s Challenge – an anti-bullying event where all elementary students gathered at Pahrangat Valley’s schools in 2014.
Congressman Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., attended last Tuesday’s event and visited classrooms and staff. Other participants included the Lincoln County Ambulance Service, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Land Management, along with Smokey the Bear, the Caliente Fire Department, the City of Caliente and various community members.
The day was all about safety. Students were taught what to do when coming across an emergency vehicle, such as when hearing sirens, pulling over and letting the vehicle through. They had the opportunity to climb in equipment and see what it was like to be inside emergency vehicles and county vehicles. Mayor Stana Hurlburt had a class on on mountain biking and safety. And Smokey the Bear taught the kids about staying safe in the outdoors.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas was also represented and gave signed Rebel basketballs and footballs to each of the schools.
The Ellises were joined by friends Andrea Alires and Pete Kypreos. Later the group headed over to the C.O. Bastian High School/Caliente Youth Center for a tour and to meet some of the students there. They were joined by Congressman Hardy, Swati Singh from Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison’s office, district superintendent Steve Hansen, assistant superintendent Bruce Burges commissioner Paul Donahue, C.O. Bastian principal Dr. Ken Higbee and Pahranagat Valley principals Brian Higbee and Mike Strong, Meadow Valley Middle School principal Cody Christensen, district board member Wade Poulsen and businesswoman Tiffany Kelly.
The group visited some of the classes, including welding, embroidery and cooking. They also saw a greenhouse that was built by the students. It was explained that most of the kids there serve about six to eight months. They show up with zero to three high school credits and are able to earn 12 to 15. This sets them up to graduate from high school and also earn certificates for such jobs as welding. The visitors were impressed by what they saw and the Ellises and Kypreos made donations to the school.
“All of us learned what a great opportunity for young adults at C.O. Bastian to learn a trade plus receive a certificate after passing the CTE class because this would definitely help when interviewing for a job,” Robert Ellis said.
This was all followed by a luncheon at Pioneer Pizza, where participants reflected on the morning’s experiences.
“We feel the ‘real heroes’ are the principals, teachers, staff and volunteers who work with and teach the students every day, not us for donating to the schools,” Ellis said. “Our reward is watching the smiling faces on the kids, principals, teachers, staff, volunteers and parents along with receiving letters, pictures and videos of the kids receiving their shoes and presents.”