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D60 Volunteers Brave Elements to Move Community Forward

A sign says "stop here for testing" Near the entrance of the Southwest Motors Events Center, Suzanne Morey, Assistant Superintendent of Pueblo School District 60, guided patrons to the line assembling to her left.

Inside the expansive Events Center, Central High School Principal Destin Mehess waved a piece of yellow “caution” tape, alerting the next-in-line that the vaccinator was ready.

Nearby, Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso filled out a small white information card, signifying the date of the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Over the course of two days, 25 D60 personnel, from central administration to building leadership to school nurses, braved arctic-like weather conditions to give of their time and energy to area educators and school staff and in turn, the greater community.

A two-day vaccination clinic at the Events Center saw more than 1,200 district educators and staff, and hundreds more from throughout Pueblo County, vaccinated.

Through a partnership with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, and with support from state health department contractors, local first responders and a rotating team of non-medical volunteers, the district as a whole took a major step forward to the return of full in-person instruction.

Andy Burns volunteering at the vaccination clinic  Despite temperatures that dipped below zero and heavily snowpacked streets, District 60 volunteers didn’t hesitate to fulfill their commitment to ensure that their colleagues in the education arena received an extra layer of protection against the virus.

“We just wanted to show our support and our solidarity for the community and teaching staff,” said Andy Burns, D60’s Director of Human Resources and coordinator of the volunteer team. “It was important for our administrators to come out, be visible and support our teachers. 

“For some, this can be an anxious process, so we are here to make it as community oriented and supportive as possible.”

On Saturday, Principal Mehess helped welcome the first wave of arrivals to the Events Center.

“People are excited to be here,” she said. “As people were getting vaccinated, we were having conversations, people were laughing, and it was very, very welcoming. You could tell people felt comfortable being here.

“And it was important to make them feel that, ‘Hey: we are all in this together.’” 

“We’ve all got to do our part for the community,” added Ted Johnson, the district’s Executive Director of Continuous Improvement and Innovation. “And I’m just super excited to be able to do this for our teachers, who have been working hard to educate our kids. 

“I think this is a great milestone for moving forward.”

Along with her husband, Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso spent most of Valentine’s Day in a selfless manner.

“It’s important to be here, regardless of the weather,” Superintendent Macaluso said. “We are so thankful for all of our community partners, and the many volunteers who make this operation run. So it’s a pleasure to be able to give of my time.” Board Member, Barb Clementi holds up a sign at the vaccination clinic

District 60 Board Member and former educator Barb Clementi said service at the clinic was a way for her to continue to contribute to the education of children.

“Because of COVID, I can’t be in the buildings working with teachers and staff, or visiting with students,” she said. “So this is a great way for me to volunteer to do something great for the district. And I appreciate everyone who is here, making this possible.”

A contractor working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Robin Pace has staffed a number of testing sites and vaccination clinics.

“Saturday was amazing: it went extremely smooth,” Ms. Pace said. “And despite the weather today, it’s a very nice turnout. This clinic is very important for us to be able to reconvene to a normal life.”

As Day Two of the clinic coincided with Valentine’s Day, Greg Mayo, a staff member at Bessemer Academy, expressed his appreciation for the chance to be vaccinated with a box of candy and a rose for his benefactors.

“There’s a lot of people coming out here in the cold, on Valentine’s Day, to help people get vaccines,” Mr. Mayo said. “So I thought that maybe I’d bring a little something. I hope people realize that it takes a lot of people to make this clinic possible, and they’re spending their time, in the cold, taking care of people like me.”