"School Breakfast, Start Your Engines"
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
MARCH 7, 2019 – After visiting with members of the Richard Childress Racing team, a number of Vienna Elementary students know what they want to do when they grow up.
“I would like to be on the pit crew,” said first-grader Madison Hauser.
Sitting next to her was first-grader Ziyah Simpson.
“I want to be on the pit crew,” Ziyah said.
Next to them were second-graders Tucker Hege and Alexis Gazo. They, too, want to work on a pit crew one day.
“I like race cars,” Alexis said.
Officially, the members of the team had come to Vienna to serve breakfast and talk about how important it is to eat a good breakfast.
The connection with Richard Childress Racing came through Katie Willard, the Marketing & Merchandising Manager for Chartwells, which manages food service for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
With “School Breakfast, Start Your Engines” being the theme of “National School Breakfast Week,” Willard thought it would be great to have members of the Richard Childress Racing team come to schools.
They, too, thought it was a great idea, and, on Wednesday, one group served breakfast at Vienna and another at Kimmel Farm elementary schools, two of the schools where the Chartwells people are working to encourage more students to eat breakfast at school.
As Kristina Hilton, who is the Chartwells Zone Supervisor for the zone that includes Vienna was getting everything ready, she said, “I hope it will get them excited about breakfast.”
“I hope they understand how important breakfast is to starting the day.”
Principal Lee Koch said he hoped that the morning helped the students in other ways as well.
Meeting successful people working in an exciting field would help them understand the importance of working hard. And seeing the members of the team being willing to come to the school would help students see the importance of giving back.
The event was a huge success.
In the days leading up to the visit, Koch and others had put the word out about the team being there, and he estimated that about three times as many students came for breakfast than usually came.
There was plenty of food.
Lisa Fennell, who is the Cafeteria Manager at Vienna, said that students had been looking forward to the morning ever since they heard that the Richard Childress Racing team was coming.
“They were so excited,” she said.
So expecting a big turnout, Fennell and Katie Hargitt – the Cafeteria Manager at Reagan High School who had come over for the morning to help – made extra croissants with egg and cheese. The menu also included cinnamon Pop Tarts, apples, orange juice, and milk.
Both women thoroughly enjoy their jobs.
“I love to see the children smile,” Fennel said.
“I love working with kids,” Hargitt said.
Until it was time for the cafeteria line to open, students sat in the cafeteria and read or visited with each other.
Kindergarten student Emma Joyner was wearing a headpiece that turned her into a unicorn.
“I like unicorns,” she said.
She hasn’t met one yet.
Fifth-grade Rebecca Densmore was reading The Westing Game, a mystery by Ellen Raskin.
Rebecca likes books that surprise her.
While waiting for the line to open, fourth-grader Chloe Landrith came up and visited with Austin Holland, one of two pit crew members – the other was Will Goodnow – who would be serving students.
Other members of the team were stationed elsewhere in the school so they could greet bus riders and car riders as they arrived. And some members of the team went around talking with students.
Chloe and her mother, Meaghan Franko, became NASCAR fans through her father’s side of the family. Thanks to Chloe’s grandparents, they have been to races, and Chloe was wearing a NASCAR shirt.
When the line opened, Holland and Goodnow visited with the students as they went through.
Afterward, fourth-graders Tyler Brown, Alonzo McCoy and Thomas Caldwell gave the experience high marks.
“It was very fun,” Thomas said.
“It was a very good experience,” said Alonzo.
“It was really cool,” Tyler said.
It was great to be served breakfast by famous people, Alonzo added.
At another table, fourth-graders Madison Gerhardt and Lily Workman also said they liked the experience.
Madison’s father watches NASCAR. So she was looking forward to going home and telling him that she had met members of a NASCAR pit crew.
“I was really excited to see NASCAR racers and the pit crew in person,” she said.
“It was pretty awesome,” Lily said.
Lily said she had come that morning just to see them. She hadn’t been having breakfast at school very often, she said, because her grandmother usually fixed it at home. But since her grandmother broke her collarbone, Lily plans to start having breakfast at school more often to make things easier for her.
Now that Lily has met some NASCAR people, she also plans to start watching races.
Vienna has some gifted students, Tucker Hege can tell you the capital of every state even though he hasn’t had to learn it in school yet. It was just something he wanted to know.
And fourth-grader Andrew Baker can tell you the name of every single president. His favorite is Ronald Reagan.
After breakfast, the NASCAR team headed to the gym/auditorium to talk with first-graders.
Jorden Paige, who operates a jack on the pit crew, talked to them about the importance of having faith in yourself.
“It starts with believing,” Paige said.
If you stay positive about your dreams, he said, you can accomplish whatever you seek.
Goodnow encouraged them to think about what they want to become.
“Work hard and you will get there,” he said.
Holland talked about the importance of eating a good breakfast.
“Winning starts with breakfast,” Holland said.
Curtis Walls said, “One of the things breakfast does is give us energy.”
He also talked about the importance of always doing your best. When people know that you always do your best, Walls said, they will remember that about you and appreciate it.
When the men took questions, Hunter Britten told them he is 6 years old and not yet fully comfortable riding his bicycle.
“That’s OK,” Walls told him.
It takes time to become comfortable doing anything, the men said.
They encouraged him to stick with it – and to always wear his helmet.
When another student asked whether they ever make a mistake, the men laughed.
“We all make mistakes – that’s part of being human,” Goodnow said.
The members of the Richard Childress Racing team visiting Vienna were:
Curtis Walls - Pit Crew
Will Goodnow - Pit Crew
Jorden Paige - Pit Crew
Austin Holland - Pit Crew
Kyle Scislowicz - Social Media
Lauren Street - Marketing
Colleen Oberle - Marketing