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A mug full of thanks

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By Kirsten Laskey

While working through parent/teacher conference week, the community is making sure the Pion Elementary School staff does not go hungry. The Hill Diner, Ruby K’s and Bandelier Grill are donating soup while parents are providing bread, fruit and side dishes. Even the sixth-graders are joining in on this effort.Feeding the staff was also held last year, however, they ate their meals out of disposable bowls. Rather than continue this trend, the sixth-graders voted to offer a more personal, and environmentally friendly alternative.With the help of art teachers Sue Bloss, Stephanie Rittner and Petr Jandacek, students painted 65 mugs, one for each employee at the elementary school. Parents Karen Galvez and Dawn Venhaus prepared the mugs for firing.Melanie McKinley, president of the Pion Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, said the mugs were gifts to teachers and staff “for all they’ve done this year and all they’ve done in past years.”Students worked on decorating the mugs, which McKinley found on-line, in January and presented them to the staff last week. “They were just so thrilled,” McKinley said.Although the art teachers were in on the secret, it was a complete surprise to the rest of the school. “I was really impressed that all those sixth-graders kept it as a surprised,” McKinley said.She added the students enjoyed participating in this project. “It seemed like they just enjoyed the creativity in making these mugs.”This was more than just an opportunity for students to express their artistic skills; they also expressed their gratitude to the staff. “I thought it was important they (involve) the entire staff because everyone contributes to (their) education,” McKinley said. “All those people contribute to having a good learning environment.”