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Schools recognize volunteers

The top five Suffolk Public Schools volunteers received awards during a Tuesday recognition event at King’s Fork High School. From left are Amber Vann, Juliet Hill, Ruth Woods, Cynthia Morgan and Regina England.

The top five Suffolk Public Schools volunteers received awards during a Tuesday recognition event at King’s Fork High School. From left are Amber Vann, Juliet Hill, Ruth Woods, Cynthia Morgan and Regina England.

Hundreds of volunteers are in Suffolk Public Schools every day helping in classrooms, supporting library staff, working at the front desk and more.

Gabriel Holloman, son of school volunteer Patricia Holloman, hula-hoops during the volunteer appreciation at King’s Fork High School on Tuesday.

Gabriel Holloman, son of school volunteer Patricia Holloman, hula-hoops during the volunteer appreciation at King’s Fork High School on Tuesday.

But nothing is all work and no play, so volunteers who logged at least 25 hours this year and their families got to let loose a little bit on Tuesday at King’s Fork High School during the first All-Star Volunteer Celebration Picnic.

“They fill a big void for us,” said Tara Moore, principal of Northern Shores Elementary School. “I guess you’d call them superheroes — they swoop in and save the day.”

The event featured free food and games, a photo booth, a disc jockey and an appearance by the mascot, Super Star.

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney said volunteer recognitions have been held in the past, but this event included more informal fun and formal recognition.

“It’s amazing to see people step up to the plate and offer assistance,” Whitney said. “We just can’t do it by ourselves.”

During the event, Whitney recognized the top five volunteers by number of hours logged. In order, they were Regina England and Cynthia Morgan, both of Elephant’s Fork Elementary School; Amber Vann, of Pioneer Elementary School; Ruth Woods, also of Elephant’s Fork; and Juliet Hill of Northern Shores Elementary School.

“I love the school,” said England, who is treasurer of the PTA at Elephant’s Fork and logged 541 hours. “I love the atmosphere of the school and the teachers and staff.”

Across the city, 2,029 registered volunteers logged 10,900 volunteer hours in the school system’s VolunteerConnect program.

Creekside Elementary School has the largest number of registered volunteers, and Elephant’s Fork had the greatest number of logged hours.

Oakland Elementary School volunteer Holly Wulfekuhle said volunteering in her children’s school has inspired her to go back to school herself. She will complete her bachelor’s degree this December and graduate with her teaching license in July through Old Dominion University’s career switcher program.

She said it’s important to volunteer in children’s schools “so that they know you care about their education.”

For Patricia Holloman, volunteering started as a way to keep herself busy, especially after all three of her children were in school.

“There’s only so much house cleaning you can do,” she said. “It’s the perfect opportunity for me to feel like I’m doing something productive and still be on my children’s schedule.”

She said it’s important for her to help the teachers at her children’s schools, Northern Shores Elementary School and John Yeates Middle School.

“The teachers are fantastic,” she said. “They have it hard enough as it is. Any little bit of help they can get.”

The event was made possible by a number of volunteers and sponsors who made the event cost “next to nothing” for the school division, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said.

The sponsors included Smithfield Foods, Sysco Foods, Flowers Bakery, Subway in the 100 block of North Main Street, Chick-fil-A on North Main Street, Taylor Orthodontics, Riverside Paper Supply, Anthem, Delta Dental, NTA Life, Walk-in-It Inc. and Holland Masonic Lodge No. 256. The Suffolk Sheriff’s Department and Suffolk Business Women cooked hot dogs and served dinner.