The Colchester School District Vision/Strategic Plan’s Positive Core stresses, among other virtues, that our community cares for its youth, that we have responsible and respectful students, that we value open, ongoing communication, and that we have invested and talented employees. And among the plan’s stated shared beliefs are that everyone is recognized as a learner and a teacher and that strengths-based thinking and planning are essential to student success and program improvement.
This story is an example of all of these elements and more—a model of outstanding collaboration between our students and our personnel.
Sophia Brigante, a fifth grader in Mrs. Buswell’s class at Malletts Bay School, embarked upon an ambitious endeavor last year to offer viable menu suggestions for CSD’s food service program. As part of her campaign, Sophia wrote a persuasive essay about enhancing school lunch offerings and formed a task force from among her peers to bolster her efforts. After analyzing the results from the online survey she’d posted, Sophia addressed the Colchester School Board and met with the district’s food service director, Steve Davis.
Success! As a result of Sophia and her group’s collaboration with Steve Davis, a number of additions to the menu offerings are taking place, including the implementation of a new taco bar, and a smoothie bar, pasta bar, and potato bar are all coming very soon. “This process has taught me to not be afraid to stand up for what I want or what I believe in,” she said. Sophia had an idea, garnered support, conducted research, presented solutions, and worked alongside administration to offer valuable, meaningful input. And indeed, the partnership has grown; a number of students have become involved, meeting monthly in the MBS library during recess, helping to research other school menus, and discussing other ideas. The group is large enough now that Sophia runs the monthly meetings with one group while fifth grader Ava Hayes chairs the meetings with the other group. (Both Sophia and Ava have also been actively involved in MBS’s community garden.) It is an enterprising project, and it is an excellent example of successful, respectful collaboration between our students and our personnel. “I felt proud that we (Sophia and I) got to share our and committee members’ ideas with such important people,” Ava said.
Steve Davis said of the collaborative effort, “This is exactly what we need. The students wanted to make suggestions, and they went about it in a very professional way. They did their research, and then we sat down together and discussed their ideas and also what considerations have to be made. I was really impressed with them, and in fact, it is a model that we’d like to implement in all of the schools going forward.”
This was not the first time that the food service team collaborated with our students. Members from CHS Health educator Melanie Laquerre’s class Food: From Soil to Stomach were invited to work alongside the CHS kitchen staff, and MBS students conducted taste tests and offered feedback to the food service team. And as was reported in our January 9 CSD Spotlight article, district administrators are establishing committees consisting of administrators, teachers, and students in all five schools to build upon the existing positive momentum and to implement additional improvements for the program. Students’ voices are heard, and our personnel demonstrate that they respect input from people of all ages and welcome partnerships in the true spirit of progress.
And that is something we can all sink our teeth into!
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