From left, kindergartners Jenna Paulus, John Moreno-Valdez, Madison Boers and Alie Alkhalifa concentrate on their math schoolwork while Boers nibbles a pancake and Alkhalifa sips milk.
From left, kindergartners Jenna Paulus, John Moreno-Valdez, Madison Boers and Alie Alkhalifa concentrate on their math schoolwork while Boers nibbles a pancake and Alkhalifa sips milk.

The morning begins quietly inside Barlow Park Elementary School.

Kindergarten teacher Kathy McMillan sits with her laptop at one of the large round tables in her classroom, typing in an electronic time-off request — for when her husband has surgery — in a few free minutes before the school bell rings.

Other teachers pop in and out to ask a question, say hi or gather for a brief morning prayer before they start their days.

Students’ chairs are stacked on the circular tables, waiting to be filled with young learners.

A screen at the front of the classroom projects a little rabbit accompanying the words, “Hello My Hoppers, I can’t wait to see where your kites have taken you... Remember ALL your responsibilities this morning. Let’s be kind to each other!”

Alongside, a stock-image list shows what school lunch fare the children could expect later that day.

“I just like them to start their day with something kind,” McMillan says.

Kind messages aren’t the only provisions the school feeds its youngsters first thing: each Barlow Park student also is offered three items for breakfast, free of charge, every morning.

Read more about the free breakfast program — and which Ripon schools it might be available — in the April 6, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.