ELKO — A teacher who was murdered two years ago is now being honored by her school.
Just over a month ago, Southside Elementary School completed a playground for first- and second- grade students in memory of Stacie Stefka.
Stefka taught second grade at Southside for a few years. She was killed by her husband on Veteran’s Day in 2011 at age 42. The incident was ruled a murder-suicide, according to Undersheriff Clair Morris.
“We added a quiet area with trees because she loved trees,” said third-grade teacher Salli McDermott. “We thought it would be a fitting memento.”
The $50,000 playground’s main attraction is the brand new blue equipment, which is surrounded by gravel. The area in the back with trees also has a picnic table that will contain a plaque with Stefka’s name.
“The whole area is going to be dedicated to her,” McDermott said. “... We tried to keep it something that was simple and would last a long time. The kids still remember her.”
Stefka also worked for the Elko County School District in West Wendover and at Northside Elementary. In 2008, she won the Office Max Teacher of the Year award.
“She was always happy and had an infectious smile,” said second-grade teacher Sara Kalaveras, who was friends with Stefka.
The playground was funded with $45,000 the Southside PTA had raised, $3,000 from a Newmont North America grant and $2,000 from donations. The school plans to have a formal dedication of the memorial in the future.