Showing their thanks: Students serve up dishes of appreciation


At Margaret R. Brown Elementary School in Seymour, students and teachers are thankful for law enforcement’s presence and service in their school and their community.

On Monday, a group of students exhibiting good behavior and kindness toward others, served up a special Thanksgiving meal for their heroes in uniform.

Upon arrival, Seymour police officers and firefighters were greeted and escorted by the students to a large room set up for the feast.

Each one had a place set for them that included a personalized placemat and special treat. And their drinks were served in glasses with motivational messages on them, like “We think you’re awesome,” and “We appreciate you.”

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The students took each officer and firefighter’s order from a menu and then brought their drinks, meals and desserts to them, taking the time to thank each one personally for working so hard to keep them safe.

Principal Tony Hack said the officers — especially the three Seymour Community School resource officers, Keith Williams, Jack Hauer and Craig Owens, and DARE officers Gilbert Carpenter and Tim Toborg — have a direct impact on the schools and set an example for students.

“We can’t thank you enough for all you do,” Hack said.

Williams said he couldn’t find words to express what it meant to him to know how much the students and school staff care.

“We’re constantly hearing about more and more officers getting hurt in the line of duty, these little guys to do what they are doing today, it’s unexplainable. You can’t put it into words what it means,” Williams said.

“It makes putting on this uniform worth it every day,” Hauer added. “To see those smiling faces when you come to work.”

This was the second year the school has organized the lunch in conjunction with its “One Book One School” initiative. Last year, students read “The Golden Rule.” This year’s book is “The Energy Bus,” which has a similar positive message.

Allowing the students to serve the meal is simply a way for kids to give back to local first responders and learn how to treat others, said instructional coach Bridget Longmeier.

Third-grader Kaia King said she is thankful the police and firefighters are available if she needs them.

“They save people and help make this a better place,” she said. “We wanted to help feed them for doing so much.”

Each department also received a goodie basket with snacks from the students.

King said she also is thankful for her family and friends and all veterans who served or are serving to protect the country.

The meal was provided by Cortland Diner and included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and rolls. Desserts were made by school counselor Karen Munson, wife of detective Troy Munson; Longmeier and special education classroom assistant Chris Boggs.

“We try to tie the book into lessons that I provide in the classroom, and Mrs. Munson does as well in her guidance lessons,” Longmeier said. “We feel like this character education helps contribute to a positive climate for the whole school. We are all speaking the same language and using the same terms when referring to how to treat others.”

Those students chosen as servers are November’s Energy Bus ticket winners. They earn tickets from teachers and other staff members by incorporating the Energy Bus rules of doing the right thing and being kind to each other.

Servers were third-graders, Kaia King, Paulton Rennekamp, Slade Fell and Carson Delph; fourth-graders, Carolos Francisco, Rafael Lopez, Briar Hardy and Valeria Morales Garcia; and fifth-graders, Kyndle Huddleston, daughter of officer Ryan Huddleston, Jaret Dominguez Ramirez, Ashley Maldonado and Ryan Pike.

“The servers love giving back,” Longmeier said. “That speaks volumes about the hearts of these students. They truly get what it means to give back and that is special. It’s a lesson being taught in these classrooms that I’m very proud to be a part of.”

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