A royal visit kicked off Breakfast Week at Coon Rapids Middle School Friday, March 21.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way MarJenna McWilliam, crowned just prior to the Minnesota State Fair in August, greeted students as they grabbed breakfast in the morning.
McWilliam’s visit generated excitement as students waved to and whispered about the princess in their midst.
CRMS nurse and breakfast adviser Patti MacGillivray hoped that the excitement would persist until Monday, when “breakfast for everyone” became the focus of the school’s annual Breakfast Week.
Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to dine on more fresh fruit options at the student council’s request, win prizes and be randomly selected to skip to the front of the lunch line.
On an average day, approximately 300 students eat breakfast at CRMS, up from an average of 100 three years ago, according to MacGillivray. Counts have tripled since the school implemented breakfast in the classroom, allowing students to grab breakfast before the bell and eat it at their desks.
A breakfast cart is set up in the lobby each morning to make it as easy as possible for kids to get the nourishment they need. Staff starts serving at 7:55 a.m. and stops at 8:20 a.m., five minutes before school starts.
CRMS has seen improved test scores in math and reading, fewer behavioral issues and fewer visits to health services with aching tummies in the early morning now that breakfast in the classroom is a staple of life at CRMS, MacGillivray said. “There [are] a lot of benefits – kids are more awake and ready to learn.”
Still, the school can continue to improve when it comes to breakfast participation. Only approximately one-fourth of the student body eats breakfast daily, and approximately the same fraction of students who qualify for free and reduced meals – 52 percent of the population at the middle school – take advantage of breakfast, MacGillivray estimates.
The school has received support from Fuel Up to Play 60 – sponsored chiefly by the National Dairy Council and National Football League – and has applied for a Minnesota Breakfast Initiative grant to continue to grow its breakfast program next year.
Breakfast Week is an annual celebration at CRMS, MacGillivray said. It occurs every spring and is timed to correlate with state testing in hopes that proper fuel in the morning will boost scores, MacGillivray said. Students begin assessments next week.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way
MacGillivray coordinated MacWilliam’s visit to fire up students about the week to come.
After greeting students March 21, the princess made an appearance on the morning announcements before speaking to a variety of classes about the importance of dairy in a healthy diet.
She made sure to stop by English teacher Cassandra Anderson’s classroom, as Anderson was on the Midwest Dairy Association judging panel that crowned MacWilliam the 60th Princess Kay.
She hopes to end up in the classroom someday, teaching English like Anderson. MacWilliam, 21, is studying English education at North Dakota State University, less than two hours from her home in Winger.
During her reign as Princess Kay, one of MacWilliam’s main duties is to visit schools, representing the state’s nearly 4,000 dairy farms.
MacWilliam pushed milk and yogurt at CRMS, reminding students that breakfast is “a great way to fuel up for the whole day.”
Olivia Koester is at [email protected]