Blake Vickers

Retiring Kit Carson Elementary school teacher Lori Sizemore wanted to do something nice for her students to celebrate her birthday this year. What started as a surprise for first graders at the school turned into a school-wide event and a beautiful end to Sizemore’s 24 years of service as an educator.

The halls of Kit Carson were particularly animated on Friday afternoon. Grinning young faces were painted up in various colors and patterns in glow-in-the-dark face paint that featured heavily in a dance party in the cafeteria.

To add more excitement to the day, a set of inflatables were set up in the gym.

All of the roughly 700 students at Kit Carson got to participate in these activities on Friday — a departure from the original plans for the celebration.

According to Sizemore, the event was supposed to happen earlier in year on Jan. 20, which is the educator’s actual birthday.

“Back in January, I contacted Rockstar Inflatables about having them come to celebrate with my class of first graders. That, unfortunately, ended up being postponed until now. We just combined the offer of the inflatables with the last Blazer Blast of the year,” Sizemore said.

Blazer Blasts are celebrations held for students at Kit Carson at the end of every nine weeks. Sizemore had initially planned to pay for the inflatables out of pocket, but Rockstar Inflatables, a family business based out of Richmond, offered to bring them to the school for free.

“That was so gracious of Rockstar Inflatables. They offered to bring the inflatables here for free, not just in honor of my retirement, but as an appreciation to teachers everywhere. We really, really appreciate that. It has made a huge fun time for these kids for their last Blazer Blast,” Sizemore said. “They said that they did not feel like teachers got enough recognition and that they would do it for free.”

A team from Rockstar Inflatables arrived at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning to set up the inflatables. The act of kindness from the company was not just appreciated by Sizemore, but students at the school as well.

“I’m sad that Mrs. Sizemore is retiring,” said first grader Hugh Miller. “But I’m happy because now she can go on vacation sometimes whenever she wants.”

Adding more to the emotional significance of the belated birthday party, Sizemore’s grandson is in her class this year. It was his idea to have a party for his fellow students to celebrate his grandmother’s birthday.

The celebration was bittersweet for Sizemore and served as a reminder of her quickly approaching retirement. Looking back, she said that teaching was the experience of a lifetime.

“It’s a little sad that I am finally retiring and moving onto something different. In one way I hate to go, because I’ll miss the kids. In another way, it’s time to move on,” Sizemore said. “This is the best party I could ever ask for. The kids are super excited. Some of them have remembered that it was supposed to be my birthday, so they told me happy birthday all over again. Just seeing their smiles is worth it.”

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