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Merrimack school employee earns counseling honor

MERRIMACK — A guidance counselor at Thorntons Ferry Elementary School received the ultimate career surprise on Thursday as she was honored as the New Hampshire Elementary School Counselor of the Year.

The prestigious award, distributed by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education program, provoked a stream of emotions for teary-eyed Julie DeLuca, who has been a guidance counselor at the local school for about seven years.

&#';This is a very deserving school counselor,&#'; said Superintendent Marge Chiafery. &#';This is a woman who has touched many lives.&#';

Melinda Avellino and William Hughen of the New Hampshire School Counselor Association were present for a special school-wide assembly honoring DeLuca, whose family was on hand to take part in the festivities.

In presenting an honorary plaque to her, Avellino described DeLuca as a humble celebrity at the school who is a strong collaborator, leader and visionary.

&#';She has done so many positive things that it is impossible to mention all of them,&#'; Avellino said of DeLuca, adding she always has the best interest of her students at heart.

Chiafery agreed, describing DeLuca as an exuberant guidance counselor who is a great listener that has a profound impact on her students — not just while they are in elementary school, but throughout their older years as well.

&#';Everyday she checks in and is an advocate for these children,&#'; Chiafery said, adding the staff was thrilled to surprise DeLuca with such an amazing and deserving honor.

&#';She is just a spirit that is constantly working,&#'; added Sydney Conti, language arts coordinator. Conti said DeLuca is involved in the lives of all the children at the school, and also spearheads many faculty events.

This is not the first time DeLuca has been recognized for her outstanding leadership efforts. She was recently honored by the Merrimack Rotary Club with an outstanding service award.

This is one of several Excellence in Education, or &#';Ed&#';ie awards, distributed to teachers and schools within the Merrimack School District in recent years.

Last spring, Thorntons Ferry received the state's first ever Excellence in Education award in conjunction with the New Hampshire Healthy Eating Active Living initiative. Also last spring, Mastricola Elementary School was named the New Hampshire Elementary School of Excellence for 2011, and Sharon Silva, librarian at Mastricola Upper Elementary School, was honored as the state's Librarian of the Year.

Chiafery said it is such an honor to have so many &#';Ed&#';ie awards so close to home, adding all of them are very deserving.

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