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Pitching in: students happy to help out in lunchroom

Central Elementary students volunteer for cafeteria cleanup roles

Kelloggsville — Putting away student ID cards, sweeping floors, wiping down tables — students at Kelloggsville Central Elementary School help out the kitchen staff in these and many other ways. 

Every day during school, hundreds of students from different grades come through the line to pick up a meal. On a recent Wednesday, 129 fourth-graders lined up to get lunch, and some of them stayed behind to help clean up. 

“They absolutely think it’s the coolest thing in the world,” kitchen manager Nicole Postma said. 

Postma is only too happy to have the help from the sweepers and table-wipers. She also received permission from Principal Kelly Farkas and the fifth-grade teachers for their students to help put the identification cards away. Each week, a different fifth-grade class puts away the cards belonging to the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders after their lunches, Postma said.  

“Kids came nonstop asking to help put the cards away,” she said. “I think for them a lot of times it’s a sense of feeling important and belonging to something. It’s a positive experience for them.” 

Fifth-grader Jack Morisho sweeps under tables after a recent lunch period

‘Yes, I Would Like To’ 

Kendall Davis, a fifth-grader, has helped out at the school’s kitchen quite a bit in recent months. On this day, Kendall helped sweep up floors and wipe down tables. 

In December, he volunteered to come in early one morning to help Postma make 180 glazed donuts, and crushed cereal to put on top of them. 

“It was fun. When I got asked, I was like ‘Yes, I would like to do this job,’” Kendall said then. 

Fifth-grader Malual Deng helps out in another way. Just outside the cafeteria is a wall filled with pouches where students place their ID cards after they’ve turned them in to get lunch. Malual volunteered to help put the cards away.

“I like volunteering. I like to try new things,” Malual said.   

‘I think for them a lot of times it’s a sense of feeling important and belonging to something.’

— Nicole Postma, kitchen manager at Kelloggsville Central Elementary School  

Jack Morisho, another fifth-grader, has helped out with kitchen tasks before, he said. On this Wednesday, he was wiping down tables and sweeping floors after the fifth-grade lunch period, alongside other students and custodians. “It’s just good to help,” he said. 

Fourth-grader Shumea Harris wipes down a table after her lunch period, when she and other students volunteered to help clean up

Making Lunch a ‘Positive Time’

Postma said she likes chatting with — and getting to know — the students when they come through to pick their food up. 

“We have split seconds with the kids when they come through the line,” Postma said. “We want this to be a positive time.” 

Fourth-grade teacher Rachael Coon said she has seen her students take better care of their desks because they have helped out in the cafeteria. All of them have volunteered to do so, she added. 

“I think it’s a way to teach them responsibility,” Coon said.

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Sean Bradley
Sean Bradley
Sean Bradley is a DeWitt native who has worked as a news reporter in several cities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He moved to Grand Rapids in March 2022 to be closer to the entertainment scene including live music and comedy. After graduating in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Central Michigan University, he started his writing career at the Manistee News Advocate, covering city government and law enforcement. He later moved onto The Morning Sun in Alma, and in 2018, went to the Livingston Daily Press and Argus. At these newspapers, he covered school boards and got to know superintendents and staff, learning the ins and outs of education reporting. He is excited to be reporting on Kelloggsville Public Schools for School News Network.


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