Student barbecue aims to boost morale

PAC Chair Sean Averill supervises the hot dogs on the grill at Earl Marriot Secondary
PAC Chair Sean Averill supervises the hot dogs on the grill at Earl Marriot Secondary's frist Hot Dog Barbecue day.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

Muffin Mornings may be a thing of the past at crowded Earl Marriott Secondary – thanks to the two-bell system for staggering use of the school – but the parents advisory council still has ways of boosting the morale of students and staff.

Last Friday, the PAC staged its first-ever Hot Dog Barbecue Lunch at the school, providing some 2,000 hot dogs and 2,000 veggie dogs, plus soft drinks and fruit – all courtesy of the organization and local businesses – for approximately 1,900 junior and senior students and administration at the school.

And, according to former Muffin Morning organizer Caroline Donnelly and PAC chair Sean Averill, who supervised the barbecue, the new event went off without a hitch, as students milled around tables set outside the school entrance, to music provided by fellow Mariners Tommy Alto and Brett McCrady.

It didn't hurt that the sun broke through that morning as volunteers set out tables and supplies.

"We knew it would be good – we consulted the Farmer's Almanac for that," said Donnelly, who has a daugher in Grade 12 and a son in Grade 8 at the school.

She said that for her and other longtime parent volunteers, Muffin Mornings were "a major tradition and a big loss for the school."

She said the event dated back to when the school had its last major renovation, over a decade ago.

"Muffin Mornings would happen three or four times a year, around the time report cards come out. We'd serve muffins, fruit and hot chocolate to the kids before school and it was a big spirit booster.

"But due to the overcrowding, this year we switched to a two-bell system, and Muffin Morning was a victim of that."

Donnelly explained that while it would still be technically possible to have a before- school Muffin Morning for Grade 8 and 9 students, to start it up again as the seniors arrived later in the day would be too disruptive.

A logical alternative was to switch to a lunchtime event that could stretch from the junior lunch period starting at 10:45 a.m. to the senior lunch period starting an hour later, she said.

Donnelly said she was hopeful that a successful event would establish a new tradition that would be equally effective –and rewarding –  as a morale builder.

"I've been doing Muffin Mornings for five years now, and it's amazing the number of kids that come by the tables with big smiles on their faces," she said.


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