It was just an ordinary day at Topaz Preparatory Academy at least until 5th grade lunch began.


Night custodian Opal Moore was working day shifts during September to fill in for an injured coworker. As Moore was patrolling the lunch room, she saw a student leap up and run to the trash can, looking as though she was going to throw up.


"At that point, the fear in her face, her lips were turning blue," Moore said.


"Opal was right there," Topaz Principal Karen Prestwood said. "She jumped in."


Moore grabbed the student and performed the Heimlich maneuver twice, expelling the piece of orange chicken that had gotten lodged in the girl's airway.


Though all of Topaz's employees have first aid and CPR certification, Moore said she'd received emergency training when she previously ran an in-home daycare.


"The part that gave me goosebumps was that we called the mom," Prestwood said. "Of course, as a mom, you're going to be upset. ... (The girl) had a cousin ... who died of choking. So that was, like, the weird twist to the story."


Moore was honored for her quick thinking by the Hesperia Unified School District's Board of Directors in December.


"I would just hope that if it was one of my grandchildren, somebody would react and do the same," Moore said.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.