For the first time this year Pepperell Elementary students gathered around tables in the lunchroom to share a meal with their mentors during the Leading Ladies and Super Hero Breakfast on Wednesday morning.
The idea to bring some community volunteers in to eat lunch with students has been an evolving idea for about the past three years, said Jackie Trammell, Pepperell district social worker. Last year, only the boys were involved in the weekly meeting but Trammell said she is really looking forward to the addition of the girl students this school year.
Last year the mentors spent time with students showing them how to tie ties, teaching them taekwondo and how to shake hands and going on field trips. Sometimes the sessions were laid back and the kids just talked or played board games, said Trammell.
“It’s stuff kids just aren’t exposed to anymore,” mentor Stephen Bradford said.
Bradford said he and some members of Fairview Baptist Church came to the school three years ago looking for ways to get involved. Trammell said the school brainstormed with Bradford and his church and the idea grew into the current program with the involvement of other churches, including First Baptist of Lindale.
Cathy Henderson, the coordinator of the Leading Ladies and Super Hero Breakfast, said the girls and boys will alternate lunches and breakfasts beginning next week. The students are nominated by their teachers to be in the program, Henderson said.
Trammell said she hopes the program catches on and spreads beyond Pepperell Elementary School to include Pepperell Primary as well as some other grades.
“I would love to follow these kids up through middle school,” Bradford said.
The group of elementary students will go on a field trip later this year to see a play at the DeSoto Theatre, something that was a hit last year, according to Trammell. Students will also participate in a service project this year, although organizers aren’t quite sure what it will be. Last year the kids collected dog food donations and took them to Public Animal Welfare Services which they really seemed to enjoy, she said.