First responders serve school breakfast

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald A girl receives a Pop Tart from Washington State Patrol Officer Michael Valentine on Monday at Midway Elementary School.

MOSES LAKE — Some of the kids at Midway Elementary School were excited that first responders were serving breakfast.

“Oh, look! The police!” one boy said as he grabbed a red, plastic food tray and got in line.

But others were not so excited.

“Would you like breakfast?” a teacher asked a thin girl who silently and warily shook her head “no” when she saw who was serving.

“Okay, not today,” the teacher said as the girl walked on.

It was the last day of National School Breakfast Week, organized by the School Nutrition Association as “a weeklong celebration of the School Breakfast Program,” which provides free and reduced-price breakfast to kids in need across the country.

The Moses Lake School District marked the event this year in what is becoming an annual ritual by having police officers, firefighters and paramedics serve breakfast to kids across the district.

And on Friday, they were at Midway Elementary.

“This is my first time doing this, and it was a lot of fun,” said State Patrol Officer Michael Valentine.

Valentine, who is 22 and only graduated from the State Patrol Academy last November, served toast and Pop Tarts, and then spent some time wandering around the Midway cafeteria talking with students and answering questions.

“A lot of kids said they want to be police, and there were a lot of questions about what’s on my belt,” Valentine said. “‘Where’s your Taser?’ That seems to be a popular question today.”

Breanna Murray, the head cook at Midway, said the school typically serves breakfast to around 100 kids in the morning, though Friday they had served 115.

“It’s a blast with the first responders, and this is the second or third year we’ve done this,” Murray said. “It’s a good interaction, it teaches them that the first responders aren’t scary or ominous.”

After breakfast, the kids gather in the school gymnasium to learn a little Hawaiian and sing the University of Hawaii fight song as part of the No Excuses University program, which helps prepare kids for college or technical education after high school.

“Did you know that ‘aloha’ means both hello and goodbye?” A teacher asked the gathered students.

“No way!” one student responded.

“We’re working towards becoming college bound and college readiness,” said Shawn West, the instructional coach at Midway.

But it all begins with breakfast. And a supportive community willing to spend time and invest in its kids.

“I had the opportunity to come interact with the kids, and that’s a good thing,” said Cliff Morgan, a volunteer firefighter with Grant County Fire District No. 5 who spent several mornings last week serving breakfast at Moses Lake schools.

“It’s important to the kids, and ultimately to us,” Morgan added.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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