LAKEMORE  It was truly and honor for the Village of Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice to receive the Friend of Education Award from the Springfield Local School District on Aug. 19.

He said the school is very important to him.

“You are really working with the whole community," he said. "I still believe that Lakemore and Springfield are one big community and the school district is the central part of it. It really means a lot to me.”

The award is always presented the first day the Springfield staff convenes for the new school year. Justice was nominated by Health and Physical Education Teacher Kevin Gorby, who stated in the written nomination that the mayor has helped create the cross-country course at Waterworks Park.

“Rick made sure we were part of the involvement in the trail (Spartan Trail) created in Springfield,” he stated.

Gorby also stated that Justice makes sure the Springfield kids have the availability of restrooms and facilities at no cost to the school. Justice comes to the meets and makes and hands out awards. He introduces the seniors on senior night.

“Rick makes sure that Waterworks park is safe for our kids, and that we have security at our fingertips if we ever need help. Rick works hard to fight for the needs and wants of our kids. I have never once felt afraid to ask him for help for our kids. He is our student’s biggest supporter,” Gorby stated.  

Justice said some of the things he has been happy to be a part of was working with Gorby and Athletic Director Kevin Vaughn to get the cross country team their first home course at Waterworks Park. He has worked with Springfield Junior/Senior High School Principal Shaun Morgan with Tobacco 21 and toward getting a grip of the vaping epidemic.

Justice has been working with Springfield Schools Superintendent Chuck Sincere and Business Manager Dustin Boswell helping to acquire the land and get the necessary approval to build the bus garage behind Lakemore Plaza.

Justice is in his eighth year as mayor for the village and said one of the first things he worked with the schools on was getting the bond issue passed to build the new junior senior high school building.

He said when they dedicated the new school, he got to thinking about Spartan pride and that the water tower in the village, that is seen from the school was light blue. He said everything should be red and gray to support the schools. He made the statement that the village was going to paint their water tower red and gray.

“We didn’t know where we were going to get the money,” he said. They not only got the tower painted in the Spartan colors but, raised money from the community to paint a 12-foot Spartan S on the tower facing the school.

He said in working with the schools through the village Police Department, they have been able to get a resource officer at the school, have the Fire Department involved at the schools and the volunteer police direct traffic for events at the school.

“We have a lot going on together,” Justice said.

Justice is a 1981 graduate of Springfield High School. In fact, the Justice family, have been graduates of SHS for generations. Justice’s mom and dad were homecoming king and queen.

Friend of Education Award coordinator John Luse, an intervention specialist, said that as far as anyone knows, the award started in the 1986-87 school year. Band Director Donna Biviano, who taught in the district for many years was in charge for a long time. Art Teacher Nancy Michel also coordinated the award for quite a few years. A nomination can be made by any school district employee and are now done through email.

Luse said Springfield School District employees are not eligible to receive the award-only people who volunteer their time.

“I guess the main criteria is how much of an impact this person has had on the students in our district," Luse said. "We have had many different and deserving award winners over the years from all walks of life (parents, policemen, politicians, businesspeople etc.).”

Justice will not be running for mayor in November and said he will miss working with staff at the schools. However, after thinking about it, he said, “I know I can find something to do to help the schools.”