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By KELLY RICHARDSON
RADCLIFF — A recent volunteering award proved that Pops is tops in the state.
John Donaldson, a volunteer with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program and rifle team at North Hardin High School, won the Outstanding High School Volunteer of the Year award from the Kentucky Coalition of School Volunteer Organizations.
Donaldson has worked with the program for three years, since moving here from Tennessee. His grandson was in JROTC at North, which is where he met Sgt. Maj. Paul Gray and Maj. Steve Fisher, who run North’s JROTC program.
When the previous rifle coach left the position, Donaldson asked Gray and Fisher if he was needed.
“I said, ‘hey, do you got something for me to do?’” Donaldson said.
Donaldson meets with students at 6 a.m. for rifle team practice. Gray said Donaldson is at the school every day. He had turned in so many volunteer hours that the Hardin County Schools volunteer coordinator approached Gray and Fisher about nominating him for the state award, Gray said.
“He’s such a part of what these kids do now,” he said. The students have given him the nickname “Pops.”
The nomination and subsequent award was a surprise for Donaldson. Even the trip to the awards ceremony did not tip him off, since he thought his wife was receiving an award. But when he arrived, he thought, “something’s wrong here,” he said.
Gray said he didn’t think Donaldson would have attended the banquet if he had known it was for him.
Gray said Donaldson’s win made the entire program proud.
“We felt like we had won, the program had won,” he said.
Winning felt “great,” but there probably are many people who deserve it more, he said. He gets satisfaction from seeing students learn and improve.
“I like to see them get something out of it,” he said.
Kelly Richardson can be
reached at (270) 505-1747.