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Lamplighter Awards honor Longview ISD teachers

By Nicholas Huber
April 8, 2016 at 12:13 a.m.

Pam Anthony, right, of Longview Early Graduation High School hugs her student Claudia Mason after receiving a Lamplighter Award and hearing an essay written in her honor by Mason, on Thursday April 7, 2016, during Longview ISD Foundation's 2016 Lamplighter Awards Banquet at Pinecrest Country Club. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

In March 2007, then-Hudson PEP third-grader Addison Holcomb was feeling rushed one morning and was not able to greet her former second-grade teacher, Jaime Halcumb, like she usually did each morning since leaving Halcumb's class the year before.

"It sort of bothered me throughout the morning, but I didn't think much of it as I had a spelling test that was creeping its way to the front of my brain," the Longview High School senior read from her essay during the Longview ISD Education Foundation's 2016 Lamplighter Awards Banquet on Thursday night.

What she read next brought what seemed like the entire room of 344 people to tears: Her second-grade teacher collapsed later that day and was placed into a medically induced coma before dying a little more than a week later.

"I remember she always had a smile on her face, no matter what. She always cared for people enormously," Holcomb read. "If I had no light, she could definitely be my light. Mrs. Halcumb is my shining star."

Holcomb said she plans to attend Texas A&M University, where she will pursue a degree in business management.

"I credit my (future) career to my second-grade teacher," Holcomb concluded. "My shining star, who taught me in the value of an education, the thrill of solving a challenging math equation and the belief that every dream is worth chasing."

Emotions filled the room throughout the evening as 13 other students honored their teachers and other Longview ISD faculty during the 2016 Lamplighter Awards.

Students nominated educators who affected them on some level with essays, describing their experiences with their nominees. The foundation selects the winning teachers and faculty based on the essays.

The foundation, which is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year, gave each teacher and student a plaque and gift card.

Retired visual arts teacher Ellen Herbert was honored with the 2016 Cornerstone Award for her 17 years of service to the district and for her support of the foundation.

The Longview ISD Foundation, established in 1994, funds the annual grants-to-teachers program and has distributed about 626 grants, giving more than $690,000 to the district's educators. The grants fund items to enhance classroom learning, such as STEM-based learning activities and other Career and Technical Education programs.

Foundation Executive Director Kay Ray said the banquet netted "a little over" $44,000 during Thursday's event.

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