The school community at Lawton Elementary School is a thriving environment where teachers and school staff unite with families to create a space for learning infused with compassion and creativity. To build and maintain this community, like most if not all school communities, Lawton depends on the commitment and dedication of its volunteers.
As this school year came to an end, the Lawton community recognized many volunteers that were a part of its lifeblood. This year, in particular, one volunteer was recognized as more than the lifeblood of Lawton, but a person who deserves recognition from our larger community.
She is a longtime Magnolia resident, a woman who has been a part of the Lawton community since 1957. With 56 years of service to the Lawton community, the school wanted to honor her presence, her dedication and her commitment to Lawton with a Lifetime of Service award.
Gloria Hablewitz has been a part of the Lawton community through all five of her children and four of her grandchildren. All five of Hablewitz’s children — Linda, Diane, Karen, David and Rickey — attended Lawton Elementary School. The oldest of her five children, Linda, started kindergarten at Lawton in 1957, and Ricky, her youngest, started kindergarten in 1970.
From 1957 through 1977, Hablewitz spent time volunteering in many capacities at Lawton. She served on the PTA as the president and cashier. She volunteered in her children’s classrooms, cooked and baked for staff appreciation and bake sales and tried to be an active member in the school and PTA. Despite working outside of the home, Hablewitz volunteered in the classroom and on the PTA board during the 19 years her five children attended Lawton.
During those days. Lawton was a K-6 school. All five of her children attended Lawton kindergarten through sixth grade.
Four of her five children still live in the Puget Sound area, and David and Ricky both still live in Magnolia.
1976 was the year her youngest child, Ricky graduated; yet, in 2013, Hablewitz still sat at the water-and-snack booth on June 7, during the Lawton field day, proudly wearing a Lawton 100th-year T-shirt. Many might wonder why, 36 years after her youngest child left Lawton, Hablewitz continues to volunteer.
Four of Hablewitz’s grandchildren also attended Lawton. Jerry, 42, is her oldest grandchild; he attended Lawton for kindergarten. Jordan, 19, attended Lawton kindergarten through first grade. Emily, 17, attended Lawton kindergarten though fifth grade.
Both Jordan and Emily had Carol McKinney, a beloved and now-retired teacher at Lawton, for kindergarten and first grade. Ms. McKinney still teaches watercolor at Lawton to students and adults.
Hablewitz’s youngest grandchild, Ryan Habelwitz, 11, graduated this year and will leave Lawton to move on to middle school, a rite of passage his father and his sister traveled years before him.
Hablewitz was at Lawton to watch Ryan be promoted to middle school.
While Ryan attended Lawton over the last six years, Hablewitz volunteered in the classroom and at PTA events. She is the ever-present and willing volunteer who feels like Lawton is her other home. This year alone, she volunteered at the book fairs, the back-to-school barbecue, the fall festival, world cultures and field day.
One thing at Lawton has not changed: volunteers and the spirit they bring to the community. Hablewitz, over the last 56 years, has been a part of the community, which is why she was honored with the Lifetime of Service recognition.
Many people will know her as the woman who waits most days during the busy pickup time at 3 p.m. waiting for her grandson Ryan to be ready to leave. She sat patiently in the chair in the main lobby, waiting. Those who know Hablewitz will not be able to look at that chair in future years without thinking of Gloria.
Therefore, the Lawton community honored Gloria by dedicating a chair in the main lobby area to her — a chair that will always be there to be the resting place for those waiting patiently for a child. A chair that will serve as a reminder that volunteers like Hablewitz are an essential ingredient of a thriving school community.
CARRIE FEELEY-WHEELER is the incoming co-president of the Lawton Elementary School PTA (4000 27th Ave. W.). To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.