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District 16 News

With the holidays just around the corner, the staff at L.W. St John Middle School wanted to do something special for loved ones serving overseas. That something turned into “Operation Cookie Bake.”

With Caren Cowan and Linda Berry leading the charge, Operation Cookie Bake took off. The project had special meaning to Cowan, because her son Evan is currently stationed in Iraq. The group would bake Christmas cookies to send Evan and his Army unit.

A call quickly went out to all District 16 employees, seeking others who had loved ones serving overseas. Soon there were two more on the list.



With the game plan set in motion and with the demand for cookies on the increase, it was evident that this small unit needed to recruit more help. That help came in the form of employees throughout District 16.

Armed with oven mitts and cookie sheets, District 16 staff members joined the ranks and became master bakers. Cookies were delivered to St John’s Middle School by the dozens with every shape, size and variety imaginable represented.



On Monday, Nov. 28, the troops rallied, and flanked by dozens of cookies, bubble wrap, and two-gallon Ziploc bags and letters from students, they began the task of packaging the delectable treats. With the packaging complete and Operation Cookie Bake coming to a successful conclusion, there remained one last task: handing off the mission to the United States Postal Service.

When the final results were tallied, Operation Cookie Bake sent off 69 pounds of cookies. The cookies were sent to Iraq, Afghanistan and England.

“This was such a great team effort. We had help from throughout the school district. Those who could bake, baked, while others provided the packaging supplies and handled postage,” said Trish Braby, a member of the Operation Cookie Bake team.

With 30 years of teaching experience between them, Patti Pitts and Janice McKee have seen hundreds of students pass through their classrooms. Pitts and McKee teach kindergarten at the Grand Valley Early Childhood Literacy Center in Parachute.

Teaching kindergarten isn’t the only thing that Pitts and McKee have in common. Both were recently nominated to be in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2004-2005.”

The publication honors and supports all teachers, letting them know that their efforts and hard work are appreciated. All of the students listed in “Who’s Who Among American High School Students” are given the opportunity to nominate a teacher who has been most influential during their academic career.

Both Pitts and McKee were flattered at being nominated, and felt that having both of them receive the honor at the same time was an added bonus. “This is such a nice honor, and that we were both nominated at the same time makes it even nicer,” said McKee.

Pitts has no idea as to who nominated her and said that it was nice to have a former student acknowledge the importance of his or her early school years. “It seems that oftentimes it is the teachers in the upper grades who receive these nominations, not those who are teaching at the kindergarten level,” said Pitts.

McKee’s nomination came from a former fourth-grade student who called to inform her that she was being nominated. The student attributes her love of reading to McKee.

“This is a great comment on our staff in District 16, it shows that we have a very qualified staff that can compete with the best in the country,” said McKee.

Sandy Hanson is the Public Information Director for Garfield County School District No. 16 and can be reached at 285-5701 or shanson@garcoschools.org.


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