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Alumni Happenings - May 2007
Grand County High School


Libby Vaccaro helps high school run smoothly
by Jeff Richards

Libby Vaccaro
Libby Vaccaro 2007

For the past 18 years, Libby Vaccaro has been the office secretary at Grand County High School, working to keep the school running smoothly during even the most hectic times.

Although her days can be somewhat chaotic, she likes her job. “I enjoy it because it’s different every day,” she says. Although things tend to get a bit overwhelming from time to time, she remains unflappable. “I just try to take one thing at a time,” she adds, a rather ironic statement for her, since she is well known for her multi-tasking capabilities.

Visiting the front office to see Libby at work, you might find her making change for a student, answering two different phone calls, making an announcement on the public address system, and writing a student a note to leave campus -- all simultaneously, without so much as batting an eye. She also types up the morning announcements each day, takes dozens of messages for teachers, students, and administrators, and handles a myriad of other tasks too numerous to list.

“She’s been a stalwart person who has kept things running at the school,” says GCHS science teacher Steve Hren, who like Libby, has worked at the high school for the past 18 years. “Any time I’ve ever needed anything as a teacher, she takes care of it. She’s awesome,” adds Hren, who will become the new principal of GCHS in the fall.

Libby herself is also making a career move this coming fall. She’ll still be working in the high school office, but will be the new bookkeeper rather than the office secretary. She’s taking the place of longtime co-worker Shirley Frederiksen, who’s retiring at the end of the current school year.

Libby Phillips
Libby Phillips 2007

Although Libby attended Grand County Schools from 1st through 11th grade, she moved with her family to Price during her junior year and ended up graduating from Carbon High School. Even so, she still considers herself a Red Devil. “Now more than ever, because I’ve worked here so long,” she notes.

Libby, 52, is the fourth of five children of Esther and the late George Philips. The family moved from Fruita, Colo. to Moab in 1961, when Elizabeth Philips (Libby) was 6. Libby’s younger sister Mary followed one year behind Libby all the way through school.

Ten years later, the Philips family moved to Price, and her father managed a grocery store there. After her high school graduation in 1972, Libby lived in Salt Lake for awhile, then moved to Phoenix, Ariz. to live with her sister. It was while Libby was working as a secretary for a drywall contractor in Phoenix that she met her soon-to-be husband Frank Vaccaro, a native of the Phoenix area.

Libby and Frank were married in November of 1974. Libby ended up spending about six years in Arizona, after which she and Frank and their oldest daughter Kelly moved to Moab in 1980 to help manage the two Gofer Foods markets in the Moab area for Libby’s parents (the small grocery and convenience stores were located in the now-vacant Jimbo’s Market building and in the current site of Dave’s Corner Market).

After an economic downturn in the mid-1980s, the Gofer stores both closed down. Libby worked for a couple of years at a local bank before landing a job with Grand County School District in 1987. She worked for a year and a half as a special education aide at the Sundwall Center preschool before the high school secretarial position opened up in 1989. She’s been working at the high school ever since.

Libby and Frank are the parents of three children, all of whom are graduates of GCHS. Oldest daughter Kelly, 28, graduated in 1997. She is married to Trenton Packard, a 1998 graduate of GCHS. Kelly and Trenton live in Moab and have three children: Trevin, 6, Brady, 4, and Maizee, five months. Kelly earned a two-year cosmetology degree from Bon Losee Academy in Provo, and now works answering the phone at her father’s plumbing business. Meantime, Trenton works at his parents’ business, Packard Distributing.

Libby and Frank’s second child is Stephen, 24, a 2000 graduate who played both baseball and basketball in high school. Stephen earned an associates degree in criminal justice from the College of Eastern Utah in Price before moving back to Moab, where he now also works for his dad.

Youngest child Kylie, 21, the GCHS 2004 senior class president, obtained a two-year degree from a design institute in the Los Angeles area, and has recently started working as a nanny in New York.

Libby has fond memories of many GCHS teachers and staff members, both as a student and as a colleague. She remembers having Gene Leonard as a teacher, then working at the school while he was vice principal. Libby says she has worked during the tenure of at least seven different principals and “probably twice that many” vice principals. Other favorite teachers included home economics teacher Rachel McDonald and English teacher Val Maughan.

“Another thing I remember about high school was dragging Main with my friends,” Libby recalls.
After working in construction and plumbing businesses for a number of years, Frank decided to start his own plumbing business, Frank Vaccaro Plumbing, three years ago.

The Vaccaros have long been avid supporters of Red Devil sports and activities. Libby served as the cheerleading adviser for seven years (both her daughters were cheerleaders), and often travels as a chaperone on school activities, including debate and drama trips.

When Libby’s children were attending high school, it was easier for Libby to get to know all the students, since many of them were friends and acquaintances of her own children. “Now it’s a challenge to get to know everyone’s name,” she admits, but she still makes it a point to learn the names of kids and their parents, so she can greet them by name.

Even though Libby will be shifting gears to a new position this fall, she doesn’t expect things to slow down much amid the hectic hubbub of the high school.

“I love the staff and the kids,” she says. “That’s what I like the most about my job -- the interaction with the kids, and the lifelong friendships I’ve made with the staff.”

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