Thank a Teacher took on a whole new meaning at Equestrian Trails Elementary School last week. Third-grader Kolston Moradi owes his life to two of the school’s teachers.
As students filed into the dismissal room to wait for their parents to drive around for pick up, Kolston sat down on the carpet and waited to be called to his mom’s car in the carline.
In what by all accounts can only be described as a freak accident, the simple force of his weight sitting down sent a newly-sharpened pencil that Kolston had put in the side pocket of his backpack into his arm near his armpit.
“I didn’t really feel anything,” Kolston explains. “But when I went to put [the pencil] in my backpack, I realized it was in me, and I pulled it out.”
Right away, Kolston went to reading teacher Mandi Kapopoulos, who happened to be nearby, and showed her his injury. At the same time, ESE coordinator Elizabeth Richards, who also just happened to be near, saw what was going on. Both women acted immediately with Kapopoulos tightly wrapping the sleeve of her shirt around Kolston’s arm to act as a tourniquet. Richards ran to get gloves so that she could use her hand to apply direct pressure to the puncture wound.
“I have been an educator for 28 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” principal Michele Johnson said.
Richards, who attended nursing school before deciding to become a teacher, laid down on the floor with Kolston while she continued to apply pressure and kept him calm. “There were hundreds of other kids in the hall, but I didn’t even see or hear them,” Richards says. “I just focused on Kolston. I kept telling him, ‘You’ve got this. It’s going to be OK.’”
As they waited for the ambulance, Kolston’s mom, Annalisa Moradi — who was waiting her turn in the carline — received a call to come into the school. “When I saw the ambulance, my heart sank,” Moradi said.
Carrying her two small children, Moradi was taken to her son by Johnson. “As she ushered me down the hall, she told me to relax,” Moradi recalled. “Two people just opened their arms and took my little ones.
“At first I didn’t understand what happened, but as soon as I walked in, I felt like the situation was under control. They were calm, and they kept me calm,” Moradi said.
It wasn’t until they were loaded into the ambulance that the severity of the accident became clear.
The pencil had gone approximately four inches into Kolston’s arm, puncturing an artery.
“The EMT told me that if the teachers hadn’t acted as quickly as they had, my son would be dead,” Moradi said.
Kolston plays hockey and lacrosse and like many parents, Moradi worries about her children all day long. “But little did I know it was a pencil that could have cost him his life,” she said.
Since the accident, the school has taken measures to remind all of the children to keep their pencils in their pencil cases, and seek out an adult immediately if ever they become injured.
Kolston received two staples in his arm, but thanks to Richards and Kapopoulos, did not require a blood transfusion. He was insistent that he return to school the next day with a great story to tell.
“You are sending your most cherished people to school, and I know I can send them to school and never have another worry about their safety,” Moradi said. “There are no words to say thank you enough. Equestrian Trails and [these teachers] will be with us the rest of our lives.”