Culinary rewards Westside Elementary students for meeting their reading goals

Story by Mattie Vacca and Heather Mowdy

SFA Cafe is a tradition at Westside Elementary and  it had a comeback. Oct. 19- 21 members of culinary class and club joined together to present students at Westside Elementary with homemade marshmallows for the event.

Success For All (SFA) is a program that includes development in reading, writing and oral language. Reading instructions are given in 90-minute periods to students grouped together based on reading ability. 

Students are required to complete 80 percent of their SFA homework during the first quarter of school to attend the special lunch event. During the event, they are presented with a special lunch environment complete with candles, music and lighting to set the mood.

Culinary instructor Chef Anthony Fischer sees the advantages for his students participating in the event.

“To see the joy on [my students’] faces when they realize the joy that they brought those students makes me happy,” Fischer said. “They are seeing all new sides of themselves.” 

Though the process is extensive, sophomore Kali Terry finds satisfaction in providing something special for elementary students to experience.

Westside Elementary students reflect on their reward. (Design by Hannah Gray)

“My favorite part is seeing the kids’ reactions and the big smile when they take their first bite,” Terry said. “It is definitely worth the process.”

Westside principal Kelsey Boulware acknowledges the benefits students gain from the incentive. Not only is it a fun reward, but it also encourages students to complete their work.

“Most importantly, they are spending time with their family and working on their reading skills at home,” Boulware said. “I love to have fun with our kids and spoil them when they have worked really hard on something.”

According to Fischer, the impact that the event has on students of all ages goes farther than the classroom.

“If [my students] can inspire one student in the elementary school to have a better outlook on the day, then they are successful in altering a student’s life,” Fischer said. “One student’s actions can affect five or six people. That is how we make effective change in the world around us.”