First Time Lunch Date with a 156 Guests

posted Sep 17, 2012, 10:45 AM by   [ updated Sep 18, 2012, 1:37 PM ]
Dateline East Oakview Elementary, September 17, 2012

Last Spring our State Legislature and Governor approved a law that required school districts in Michigan to run full day kindergarten or lose half of the previous funding for kindergarten.  Those who championed the bill said districts were not obligated to run the full day kindergarten sessions.  The truth of the matter was no school district could take additional cuts after $900 million was taken from the school aid fund to help balance the State budget and give a tax break to private business that was supposed to spur job creation and growth.

We did not argue the value of full day kindergarten.  We have always said that the more time our students are with our highly qualified staff the more likely it is that their academic achievement will accelerate and their social development increased.  Our kindergarten teachers have already reported that they are making strong gains in the areas of literacy skills and math skills.  We have "evidence" that our public schools in Northview are working. 

There are a few things the crafters of the full-day kindergarten bill and our Governor overlooked.  Fortunately, our highly qualified lunch room staff (yes they are highly qualified and help our kids learn to "do lunch" as well as develop social skills):

  • 75 kindergarten students now need to stay at school and eat 15 minutes.  Today at East Oakview, two weeks into the new school year, the lunchroom aides (3 people plus some teachers who donate their lunch time to help), a cook and her assistant, and the principal open milk cartons, juice boxes, go-gerts, oranges, apple pieces in bags, thermos bottles, take lunch cards, help the "hot-lunch-kids" try and make choices of fruits and vegetables mandated by the new Federal Guidelines for lunch, clean up spills, teach kids to pick up their mess, talk in a reasonably quiet voice, find the bathroom, find their assigned seat (names on the seats but then some kindergarten kids can't read their name), find the right door to leave for recess, dry tears, talk about what happen in the morning class, assure them that their parents will in fact pick them up after school, try and find a tooth lost on the playground (the principal wrote a letter to the Tooth Fairy confirming the tooth was lost but couldn't be found and the student put the letter under his pillow), tied shoes, and then lead them out for recess.  In the meantime, down one lunch room aide who needed to go out and supervise the playground, tables were washed as the next group lined up at the door of the lunch room.
  • Enter 81 first grade students who have never eaten lunch at school (no full day kindergarten last year) and repeat the activities found in the first bullet point but add in all of the 66 second grade students.  Now tables are wiped again, trash cans emptied, and all the 3rd and 4th grade kids are lined up at the door ready to come in for the third lunch period.
  • A 167 thrid and 4th grade students enter and the process is repeated even though they are professionals at eating lunch, opening bags and drinks, and actually get the corny jokes told by some adults.  As the last student leaves the gym, that's right the gym which doubles as the lunch room, tables are wiped, the floor swept, the floor cleaned with a machine that looks like a small Zambonie and driven by the office aid, tables dragged into the back storage room by the gym teacher, trash bags hauled to the dumpster by the principal, all as the first physical education class of the afternoon lines up at the door of the gymacafetorium (thanks to "Everyone Loves Raymond" for that term).
Thanks to the staff at East Oakview Elementary (West Oakview and North Oakview have the same drills everyday as well - thank you) our students are learning to navigate "lunch time."  The staff are helping our kids learn social skills even though it is "just lunch" in the eyes of folks who have never been in an elementary lunch room with 156 kids who need to learn to eat lunch in a limited amount of time.

And just for the record - "imagine what our team of professionals could do if the Legislature and the Governor actually restored funding to public schools to 2009 levels, returned the $900 million taken from the school aid fund last year, repaid the loan taken from the school aid fund by Governor Engler's team, and made it an actual financial priority to public education.  Instead there are more dashboards, more bench marks, more comparisons on standardized test scores, and demands that private business could do it better and take a profit.

I guess those virtual schools have had similar lunch room issues with their virtual full day kindergarten students eating their virtual lunch.  I hope the juice box doesn't get spilled on the lap top.  The virtual teachers would not have any stains on their shirts but then they would have missed hearing the third grade girl tell me I looked just like Dr. Seuss.

Please feel free to send this information to you circles of influence and your elected officials.  This is one more piece of evidence that public schools in Northview are working - even at lunch.


Mike Paskewicz