White Brook Middle School celebrates arrival of new recess equipment, breakfast kiosk with Pat Patriot

  • New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot and Hadley dairy farmer Bob Gould, right, pose with White Brook Middle School principal Meredith Balise and sixth graders, from left, Amelia and Abby Achmad, Lauren Morse (face covered) and Jillian Borowski during a celebration of the enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment at the Easthampton school on Wednesday. The school was awarded a $3,319 grant by the New England Dairy & Food Council to purchase a mobile breakfast kiosk and other equipment. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • White Brook Middle School sixth graders Jillian Borowoski, left, Abby Achmad (back to camera) and Amelia Achmad, along with principal Meredith Balise, in background, wheel a new cart and recess equipment out before the arrival of buses at the Easthampton school Wednesday morning. A grant from the New England Dairy & Food Council made the purchase of the new equipment possible. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • White Brook Middle School seventh grader Keith Cudworth said it was "a dream come true" to play football with Pat Patriot, left, during the New England Patriots mascot's visit to the Easthampton school early Wednesday to help celebrate an enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment - which includes several footballs. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Easthampton Schools Food Service Director Andrew Stratton, left, and employee Cathy Ouimette pour smoothies for White Brook Middle School students arriving Wednesday morning as the school and the New England Dairy & Food Council celebrated an enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Erik Hardy, right, gets directions to the new mobile breakfast kiosk from fellow White Brook Middle School sixth graders, from left, Abby and Amelia Armand, Jillian Borowski and Lauren Morse, as he arrives at school on Wednesday. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • White Brook Middle School fifth grader Charlotte Morris finishes off a vanilla smoothie from the mobile breakfast kiosk that is a new part of the enhanced breakfast program at the Easthampton school. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot signs an autograph on a White Brook Middle School student's phone during a visit to help celebrate an enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment at the Easthampton school on Wednesday. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot visits White Brook Middle School on Wednesday morning to help celebrate an enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment at the Easthampton school. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • White Brook Middle School sixth-grader Alex Kalin gets an apple from a new mobile breakfast kiosk staffed by Carole Thomas outside the Easthampton school on Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • White Brook Middle School fifth-grader Collin Czelusniak gets “help” from New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot during his visit to the Easthampton school on Wednesday to help celebrate an enhanced breakfast program and new recess equipment. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

@amandadrane
Published: 10/19/2016 1:54:59 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Breakfast is the meal of champions, and no one can illustrate that better to a group of schoolchildren than Pat Patriot, who visited White Brook Middle School on Wednesday.

The New England Patriots mascot joined school leaders and representatives from the New England Food and Dairy Council in presenting students with new recess equipment and a breakfast cart to encourage more kids to eat healthy foods on their way into school.

The school bought the items with a $3,319 grant awarded by Fuel Up to Play 60, a three-way partnership between the National Football League, the National Dairy Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We had talked about it in the wellness committee, ways to encourage healthy eating and physical activity,” said Superintendent Nancy Follansbee. “And this really supports both of those initiatives.”

Until now, students at the school lacked equipment to use during recess. Early Wednesday morning students put the new items — including soccer balls, kickballs, hula hoops and jump ropes — to swift use in a frenzy of excitement.

“Pat gets the kids excited,” said Ally Gallop, a spokesperson for the New England Food and Dairy Council, watching as Pat threw one of the new footballs back and forth with one beaming student. “We want to celebrate eating well and being active.”

While students tossed balls around, had hula hoop competitions and waited to take pictures with Pat, school staff passed around blueberry and yogurt smoothies.

Bob Gould, manager at Allard’s Farms in Hadley, said Dairy Council events help local farmers sell their wares.

“It helps get the word out — any kind of milk is good for growing kids,” Gould said.

Abby Achmad, 11, is a student ambassador who helped pick out the items. She said students previously had to eat breakfast in the cafeteria while others were outside milling around, so the cart is more accessible.

“I know a lot of kids that go inside for breakfast and I think this will be easier for them,” she said of the mobile food cart, which will offer egg sandwiches, fruit and other healthy breakfast options.

Some students, said Jordan Detmers, 13, stay inside during recess and he thinks the new items might change their routines.

“It might make kids want to go out to recess more,” he said.

Principal Meredith Balise agreed.

“I think it will just bring a whole new level of excitement,” she said. “We haven’t had anything like this for recess.”

Ashley Cortis, 10, picked up one of the kickballs and said now she’ll have more options than just tag.

“We’ll play four square and sometimes play football, and kickball, too,” she said of her plans.

One parent heavily involved in the grant application process was pleased to see the fruits of her labor.

“We really needed all of this equipment to enhance recess,” said Rachel Achmad, who has two children at the school. “That (equipment) cart is great because it’s really easy to push around.”

Deb Lusnia, School Committee chairwoman, was on hand for the event to show support.

“We’re just excited for this new opportunity for the kids,” Lusnia said. “We’re grateful for the involved parents that helped make it happen.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com.




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