Moses Lake Police Department Officer Roland Alejo exchanges high fives with Groff Elementary students at recess after breakfast.
CHERYL SCHWEIZER/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
Garrett Fletcher of the Moses Lake Fire Department talks with Groff Elementary students during a breakfast visit by first responders.
Terri Arana of the Moses Lake Police Department hands out stickers during a breakfast visit by first responders to Groff Elementary.
Moses Lake Police Department Officer Ian Campbell helps open a milk carton during breakfast at Groff Elementary.
Brandon Burns of the Moses Lake Fire Department talks with a Groff Elementary breakfast buddy during the first responder visit Wednesday.
Staff Writer | March 13, 2023 1:30 AM
MOSES LAKE — Chocolate milk on cereal? Officer Campbell was skeptical.
Moses Lake Police Department Officer Ian Campbell was having breakfast with students at Groff Elementary Wednesday, and one of his breakfast buddies insisted that chocolate milk was the best option for cereal. Campbell said he didn’t know about that, but he did concede chocolate milk might make more sense on chocolate cereal.
“Chocolate milk would make it double chocolate,” he said.
Last week was National School Breakfast Week, and it’s a custom of the Moses Lake School District to invite emergency personnel for breakfast throughout the week at each of the district’s 11 elementary schools.
“First responders just show up and have breakfast with the kids,” Campbell said.
Along with MLPD officers, firefighters from the Moses Lake Fire Department and Grant County Fire District 5 visited Groff Elementary, helping serve breakfast, talking with children in the lunchroom and out on the playground.
Dannie Brooks and Vanessa Razo from GCFD 5 poured syrup on pancakes, and the MLPD’s Terri Anarna handed out stickers. Police department Officer Roland Alejo exchanged high-fives with children out on the playground. Campbell and one of his breakfast buddies worked together to open a milk carton.
At other schools, officers and firefighters worked the breakfast line, walked around the lunchroom talking to students, posed for pictures – and yes, helped open a milk carton or two.
“We go into all the elementary schools this week,” said Bob Horst, battalion chief with GCFD 5. Horst circulated among the tables, handing out GCFD 5 stickers.
Breakfast at school is a chance for police officers and firefighters to connect with children, Campbell said.
“They get to see us in a better environment and not when we’re running crazy to a call,” he said.
Some children are curious about the jobs they do, Horst said. Children want to know what a first responder actually does, the kind of calls they get and how long they’ve been on the job.
“It’s a time for us to sit down and visit with them,” Horst said. “At their age, we’re really trying to teach them it’s okay to call us and not be scared. Don’t hide from us.”
Firefighting requires stuff that can look pretty frightening to a child, he said.
“They’re scared of all our gear,” Horst said – the turnouts, the helmets and the breathing apparatus.
“With your mask, it sounds like Darth Vader,” he said.
National studies show children, especially very young children, often will try to hide during a structure fire, he said, not only from the fire but from firefighters, because they’re so frightened. Events like serving breakfast help children learn firefighters and first responders, in general, are not scary and will help them in an emergency situation, he said.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at email@example.com.