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7's HERO: Lifelong school volunteer with autism is celebrated in a big way

Corey Holaday went to school at Frontier Elementary, and he's volunteered there for his whole adult life. The school celebrated his 40th birthday in style!

MERIDIAN, Idaho — There was a very special celebration at Frontier Elementary in Meridian during the last week of school. It was a birthday party for a volunteer that has been giving his time at the school daily for the last 18 years. The staff and the kids at Frontier wanted to show him just how appreciated he is on his milestone fortieth birthday! 

"We are celebrating him with cake, the kids are going to sing, just so many great things for Corey today," Carolyn Knam, the Frontier School librarian said. 

Corey Holaday is more than just a school volunteer; he was also a student at Frontier over thirty years ago. When he was little boy in the 1980's, he started kindergarten at the school. Corey has autism, and he loved his elementary school experience. He wanted to give back as an adult, and Frontier was happy to welcome him back. This time, as a school volunteer. That year, turned into 18 years. 

"I think we still have one teacher that remembers him when he was here as a child," Knam said. "He's pretty special. He's just part of Frontier. We take care of him, and he definitely takes care of us." 

Corey loves to work in the library with Knam, he keeps the books organized and tidy for the students.  

"Corey picks up all the library books in the morning, and gets them all checked in. He is every librarian's perfect helper. Every elementary librarian wants a Corey," Knam said with a smile.  

But that's not all. You'll often spot him helping out in the cafeteria and kitchen. He likes to stay busy and help the students and staff in any way can. 

"He's just awesome, we all just love having him here," Knam said. "The kids really love him." 

If you ask around, you'll quickly find out that Corey is really popular with the students. 

 "He's a big part of Frontier," Alexia Hefty, a student at Frontier said. "Corey has been here since I was in kindergarten and he's always been a hard worker, we always see him putting books away or helping in the kitchen. He never gives up, he's a volunteer and he's a very hard worker. We all appreciate him so much." 

On the day of Corey's birthday celebration, the whole staff wore Corey t-shirts. The shirts had Corey's photo right on the front. They wanted to go big for him on his special day. The whole school sang the birthday song to him, and there was a cake. Corey loved every minute of it. 

"I feel great," Corey said. "This is so fun!" 

Corey has always felt right at home here Frontier, and the staff hopes he will stay for as long as he wants to. They just can't imagine Frontier without him, especially Knam. 

"He's often said to me when you retire, I hope the new librarian will let me do what you let me do, and I would definitely see that he's here for a long, long time," Knam said. "I hope he stays here forever." 

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