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Former school nurse urged student health

DENVER – Ruth Hill may be famous.
The 79-year-old was a nurse for 38 years and may have been the connection to getting breakfasts in North Carolina schools.
The Denver resident worked in Statesville at three elementary and two junior high schools as the school nurse and worked with low income students.
Each day she would see the children come to school –
some who told her that they did not have any food at home. They were coming to school without having breakfast. Their teeth were rotting. Some of the children had such bad decay that abscesses were draining out their cheeks.
“I finally went and told the principal and the next thing I knew they went to Raleigh and then North Carolina schools were offering breakfast,” she said.
A school dentist also came to assist and started offering “swish,” cups that were filled with fluoride.
“The students couldn’t learn with no breakfast and having their teeth rotting,” Hill said.
She said it took roughly 10 years to get the children on good conditions and have them healthy enough to teach them.
“It was well spent money – even today,” Hill said.
“I wouldn’t buck anything that would help a child and help get them in shape. It will help them learn and keep them off the street,” she added.
Hill grew up in Cornelius and knew for most of her life that she wanted to be a nurse.
She was born during the Depression when times were rough. Hill remembers her father working in the mill in Cornelius.
After she finished the ninth grade in Cornelius, the family moved to Mooresville.
Once she decided she wanted to be a nurse she attended Mercy Nursing School in Charlotte from 1943 to 1946.
She remembers many of the children that she helped throughout the years.
“I love children,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Hill also worked as a nurse at the Davidson College infirmary for five years.
Hill will celebrate her 80th birthday in September.
To many in the area, she is known to be full of history and to have made a profound difference in North Carolina schools.
But Hill doesn’t like to brag.
“I just tell the truth,” she said. “And I love to talk about my history.”
by Amy Wadsworth

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