- Sponsorship -

Lightbulb lunches garner student voice


Their teachers probably do it often; many of their parents, too. At Ada Elementary, a couple dozen students at a time are learning what it’s like to be in on a “working lunch.”

“It means you work while you eat,” explained first-grader Carter Griffioen, as all around him could be heard the sounds of juice boxes crinkling, sandwich bags opening and even corn on the cob being crunched.

Finley Thomas shares with Principal Kimberly Van Antwerp what she thinks makes her school great

For the second year, Principal Kimberly Van Antwerp is hosting the monthly lunch meetings — called lightbulb to signify bright ideas. The event extends the district’s effort to capture student voice, even to its youngest students.

Every month, teachers recommend a different group of students from each grade. The goal is that every student at the school will be in at least one lightbulb lunch every other year, Van Antwerp said.

And the working lunch is lightning fast: within about 30 minutes, each group brainstorms what they think is great about their school and what they think needs improvement.

Wyatt Kurpinski has an idea how to make his school better

Student Voice

On what makes the school great:

“The awesome staff,” offered second-grader Jack Scanlon, who singled out the “lunch ladies” and the “special (education) teachers.”

Added first-grader Jackson VanderWall: “That we get to do math.”

Second-grader Corryn Myers had one that came up again and again: “That everyone is so kind.”

Regarding restorative circles, third-grader Connor Leestma had this to say: “It’s kind of like the Knights of the Roundtable; no one has a bigger say than anyone else.”

Suggestions for improvement included:

“The lunch lines are way too long,” said second-grader Madi Weage. “Hot lunch doesn’t get time to even finish.” To which Principal Van Antwerp replied: “We need to fix that.”

Second-grader Wyatt Kurpinski said “Sometimes if I’m on the buddy bench, people just walk past me.” Van Antwerp said she will remind students during her daily announcements that those on the buddy bench are looking for others to play with.

More playground equipment was a common request among the group of second- and third-graders. Third- and fourth-graders wondered whether they are old enough to choose those they sit with at lunch, instead of having to be with their class; and also brought up safety concerns.

“I have noticed a lot of cracks in the cement, and the parking lot has a lot of pieces coming off,” said fourth-grader Aidan Earhart. “Somebody is going to trip.”

Added fourth-grader Oliver “Ollie” Kulik between bites of salad: “We could paint better lines by the buses so kids know where to walk and where not to.” To that, a classmate replied “Oh, big-time.”

Van Antwerp reminded the lightbulb lunchers that numerous improvements around school have come from student input: such as a bulletin board with regularly updated book recommendations and even bring-your-own soccer balls.

“We want you to know we listen to your ideas, and that your ideas matter,” she said.

Related Articles:

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

LATEST ARTICLES

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

Rain gutter regatta showcases buoyancy, engineering skills

An annual boat race has become a highlight of sixth-grade science class. At stake: bragging rights and 'a goofy trophy'...

The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to a government work program in the 1930s...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Pen pals build bonds during remote learning

How does a teacher create get-to-know-you opportunities for her new class of third-grade distance learners?

Art with a fishy surprise

An art project demonstrates that what you see at first isn’t necessarily the whole picture...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS