Junior high principal is named HERO
AMERICAN FORK — Every day—even in the summer—American Fork Jr. High Principal Jeff Schoonover is thinking about his students and how he can help them. However, he was recently recognized as an American Fork HERO for going above and beyond that normal thoughtfulness to help fill a need for one of his students.
Thanks to the efforts of Schoonover, students from several local schools and community members, Kevin Baillargeon, who will be in eighth grade in the fall, will be able to get around in a wheelchair-accessible van.
Kevin was born with phocomelia syndrome a rare birth defect that left him without arms or legs. He relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around, but a few years ago the family van which had a wheelchair lift wore out and Kevin's mother could not afford to replace it. This meant that the family was rarely able to travel anywhere together.
Last year Schoonover, who has been the school's principal since 2014, became aware of Kevin's predicament and determined to do something about it. Over the course of the school year, he and the assistant principals, students and community members organized a Penny Wars campaign, car wash and what became known as Kevin's Karnival. Students at several other schools got in on the effort. In the end, more than $90,000 was raised to purchase a van with enough left over to go toward a scholarship for Kevin's future needs.
On June 12, Mayor Brad Frost and the city council recognized Schoonover for his efforts.
"Mr. Schoonover went above and beyond what you normally see," Frost said. "Through his leadership and action, he brought a great spirit of love to our community and the surrounding communities. He helped us rise to greater heights of being able to feel love for one another."
"We honor his dedication, commitment and leadership in serving youth and families in our community," he said.
In addition to recognizing Schoonover, the resolution unanimously approved by the city council named June 12, 2018, Jeff Schoononver Day.
For his part, Schoonover was quick to praise and thank his assistant principals, his family, the mayor and city council and members of the American Fork fire and police departments for their support and contributions to the effort.
"This was a neat opportunity to help our student," he said …"The best part of this was seeing our students giving back."
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