Making good citizens not just good grades

Being a member of the National Honor Society means more than getting good grades.
It means being a good citizen. And that includes giving back to your community.
Recently, the six members of the Rangely National Honor Society learned firsthand the importance of giving.
The students, under the direction of sponsor Donna Petersburg, put out boxes around Rangely, in three different stores, asking for donations of toys to give to needy children at Christmas, for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. The students also bought toys with some of their club money. Toys were collected between Dec. 1 and 15.
“These kids, that’s part of their group, it’s a service organization,” Petersburg said. “They’re also doing a monthly reading, where they read once a month to kids in the evening at the high school library. They’re really good kids.”
On Dec. 18, a week before Christmas, the National Honor Society students showed up with the boxes of toys at Rangely District Hospital. They had no idea how desperately the toys were needed.
“We didn’t know there was a particular need there,” said Petersburg, a retired teacher who taught for 20 years in the Rangely School District and now serves on the school board. “But when we got there, they were so excited. It was really nice to keep it local. If you donate locally, it’s more meaningful on a personal basis. We all need to work locally when we can.”
For the hospital, the donated toys couldn’t have come at a better time.
“They didn’t know we had the need,” said Cynthia Henshaw, executive assistant at the hospital. “We didn’t know they were coming. It was just something they did. The nurses flipped out. They were so excited.”
The toys will be given to children who are patients at the hospital.
“We try to have things on hand (to give to children), but we’ve been extremely busy, and we’ve had a lot of pediatrics come through,” Henshaw said. “It’s not something we have budgeted, usually it’s just donated, but it’s been a long time.”
The donated toys included coloring books, puzzle books, crayons, stuffed animals and games.
“If you can give them a teddy bear or something to hold on to when they are getting a shot or something, it distracts them and gives them comfort,” Henshaw said. “And they can take it home with them.”
Henshaw said the hospital was grateful for the students’ – and the community’s – generosity.
“I don’t know who they were, but the kids did this, plus the local businesses and individuals who donated,” Henshaw said. “I think they should know how much we needed this.”
Even Petersburg’s husband, Steve, who serves on the hospital board of directors, wasn’t aware of what the students were up to.
“There was no connection,” Henshaw said. “He didn’t even know they were doing this. It was just one of those Christmas miracle things, you know.”
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I enjoyed the holidays, but I don’t know about you, I was ready for things to get back to normal.
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I attended the Rio Blanco County Historical Society’s quarterly meeting Sunday at Kilowatt Korner and some of the nice ladies in attendance “forced” me to join them for lunch. Sandy Shimko, from the White River Museum, said, “I read your column. You need to eat.”
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Kudos to Steve Wix and the rest of the historical society’s board for keeping the organization afloat, despite the bookkeeping problems during the past year. Wix is president of the historical society and has been doubling as treasurer.
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We regularly receive requests for photo reprints, which can be ordered online. It’s easy, just go to There are photos from events such as Range Call, Rio Blanco County Fair, Rangely rock crawling, Smoking River Pow Wow, Septemberfest and Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials.
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I managed to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, which is way past my bedtime, especially after waking up at 3 that morning to insert the paper.
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I wasn’t familiar with such a phenomenon until recently, but I’ve been hearing a lot about temperature inversion.
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When I walked to work Monday morning, the time and temperature sign at First National Bank of the Rockies flashed that it was minus 13 degrees. OK, now that is really cold.
Walking home for lunch that day, when it had “warmed up” to all of 3 degrees, I saw my neighbor Jason Hightower, elementary school principal, on the playground during recess.
“Man, it’s cold,” I said.
“I love it,” Jason said.
There’s something wrong with him.
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Stay warm, everybody.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at