Washburn students return to D.C.

Five Washburn fourth and fifth graders will return to the White House this Sunday to harvest food they planted in the White House Garden in April. On Monday, the students will prepare a meal with First Lady Michelle Obama, Television Host and Cook Rachel Ray, and Tastemade’s Frankie Celenza. From left: Ilya Lalich, Brenden Walson, Erin Hinson, Serena Bailey and Sofia Borchers.

Five Washburn fourth and fifth graders will fly out to Washington D.C. Sunday to harvest food they planted in the White House Garden in April as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.

Washburn fifth grader Sophia Borchers said she is shocked and excited to be going back to the White House so soon.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “The whole point of these trips is to help stop child obesity.”

Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, and shares the goal of fostering healthy life choices with Washburn’s own Green and Healthy initiative.

Erin Hinson, Brenden Walson, Serena Bailey, Ilya Lalich and Borchers will prepare a meal with Obama, television host and cook Rachel Ray and Tastemade’s Frankie Celenza.

Borchers said she enjoys cooking at home and is looking forward to working side-by-side with Ray and Obama in the kitchen. Borchers expects that the meal will “be healthy, and good.”

In April, these five students planted carrots, beans and lettuce next to the First Lady and students from Cortez, Colo.; and New Orleans. The students also met NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and Astronaut Cady Coleman.

For Borchers, meeting Coleman was “unbelievable.”

“I really liked it because I’m really into science and want to work for NASA when I grow up, ” Borchers explained.

As a Wisconsin resident, Walson said he is surprised that the plants are already ready for harvest. However, a second visit to the White House is the perfect way to kick off the summer.

“I’m obviously most excited about the White House. It’s the White House!” Walson exclaimed. “I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the sights we missed the first time we were in D.C.”

Walson said the group plans to visit George Washington’s birthplace.

Washburn Elementary and Middle School Principal Al Krause and fifth-grade teacher Jan Stelmaszewski will accompany the students on their trip to the nation’s capital.

“This is a once-in a-lifetime opportunity for the kids, and it is great that we can offer it to them,” Stelmaszewski said.

Krause believes that the Green and Healthy initiative is “just as important as reading and math,” and is the primary reason students from Washburn were selected for this opportunity.

“The Green and Healthy initiatives and standards in every classroom mean that things like gardening are not just special, but instead are a core part of the education of every child in the district,” Krause explained.

Washburn’s Green and Healthy initiative ensures that students throughout the district are introduced to healthy lifestyle concepts at all levels. Students and staff of the district currently maintain a 6,400 square foot garden, a small orchard and aquaponics lab with the intention of promoting environmental stewardship, foster human health, and develop ecological sustainability. Food grown on-site is served in school lunches and sold throughout the community.

Krause believes a second trip to the White House “validates all of the hard work done around Green and Healthy” by Washburn’s teachers and staff.

“It is important for our future and it continues to have an impact on the lives of our students,” Krause said. “To be nationally recognized like this is a tremendous honor for our community. To be asked to come back just reaffirms the feelings we all had the first time.”

Both Krause and Stelmaszewski hope that this four-day trip to Washington D.C. is life changing, in some way, for the students.

“They will have these memories forever,” Krause said.

To see a livestream of the event visit whitehouse.gov/live on Monday, June 6.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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