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Elementary School Custodian Surprised, Named Black History Month Hero

WILLOW GROVE, P.A., (CBS) -- Students at a Willow Grove elementary school are learning about what makes someone a hero. On Friday, at a special assembly, they surprised someone they believe has all the necessary qualities.

There is a hero in the halls at a Willow Grove elementary school. On the wall are examples of doctors, teachers and judges, but there is also someone who reminds people that the heroes honored during African American History Month, don't always have names that we know.

"I take great pride in being a part of doing something like this," said Percy Herder, the school's custodian as he prepared for the assembly. Herder has been the head custodian at Thomas Fitzwater Elementary School for over two decades.

He thought that the school was holding a Black History Month event, but what he didn't know was that this day and this story are about him.

"We started this assembly under the guise of a Pause assembly which is our positive behavior system, which is something that we do monthly anyway, so that there's no suspicion," said Cherise Nelson, a teacher at the school. "In his quiet way, he has changed the lives of so many people."

The assembly was really to surprise Herder with the title of Black History Month Hero.

"Whenever he's out, it's 'Mr Herder, Mr. Herder' all day long. They love him," one teacher said of the student's feelings toward Herder.

"He knows every student by name," said the school's principal, Peter Alston. "He remembers their bithdays. He acknowledges every single person in this building.

"Everyday, we have a hero in our midst, not to say that the people on the wall aren't phenomenal and they have impacted our world, but he impacts our community day in and day out."


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