By Pauline Derry
Each year at Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico, one fifth-grade student is given the Zachary Tucker H.E.R.O. Award, which highlights students that have the following qualities: H—happy attitude, E—excellent student, R—respected friend and O—outstanding athlete. All of which describe Zachary Tucker, a former student of the school who passed away at the end of his third-grade year after bravely battling a cancerous brain tumor for 10 months.
After his passing, the award was created in 2007 to remember the lessons Zach taught everyone and acknowledge those who follow in his footsteps of being a hero.
Although Lithia Springs Elementary School is full of award-winning students, Nolan Childress stood out above the rest and was named the 2021 H.E.R.O. by Zach’s parents, Dirk and Sherry Tucker at the annual Fifth Grade Zach Tucker Kickball Tournament.
Nolan is described as a hard worker, a natural born leader and a friend to all.
“He is always positive and has an infectious smile,” said Samantha Childress, Nolan’s mother. “It is an honor for him to even be nominated and recognized by the Tucker family.”
Nolan is the oldest of three children and is part of a military family that has undergone many moves. As a result, he has developed the ability to easily make friends wherever he goes.
Apart from inside the classroom, where Nolan helps whenever needed, he is a part of the AGP (gifted) program, where he is described as having superior intelligence and capable of high performance; he also attends swim practice four times a week after school at the Tampa Bay Aquatic Club, where he works with coaches who push him to succeed.
As the 15th recipient of the award, Nolan keeps Zach’s legacy alive at Lithia Springs Elementary School and sets an example for other students to follow in the future.