Educational value of giving

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Steve Atwater races the halls of Redoubt Elementary School last week to collect food students brought in for a food drive to benefit the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.

For about 10 minutes on Friday afternoon, the inside voices rule was thrown out the window at Redoubt Elementary.


The students of Redoubt Elementary lined the hallway to toss food into the shopping carts as a race commenced between Dr. Steve Atwater, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District superintendent, and John Pothast, the school's principal, to collect food to donate to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. This activity is just one of countless ways the KPBSD schools donate to the food bank.

"It's good for the community as a whole," Pothast said. "It's good for our kids to learn how to help the community.

"That's the big reason why we started this -- trying to teach that we are part of a bigger community."

This is the second year of the race format at Redoubt, but they, along with many other KPBSD schools, have been doing food drives for quite some time.

"It's worked," Pothast said. "It's created a lot more energy and excitement again."

Part of the excitement is having two shopping carts flying through the hallways as the students scream and yell. As Sharon Hale, Redoubt's library aide said, it's "mass chaos."

That chaos has brought back some excitement to Redoubt's food drive efforts.

"We tried doing some other things," Hale said. "This has a larger buy-in from the kids."

Atwater said one of the big criticisms of kids today is that they're self-centered and they really don't understand the idea of service.

"So it's important that we promote the idea of service by giving," Atwater said. "I think what we also saw today, is that the kids do understand, and embrace it.

"Look at this load of food, it's awesome."

The idea of service was not lost on sixth-grader Nick Edwards, who was one of the cart unloaders.

"It was just really enjoyable to load (the food), and have fun and help the community," Edwards said.

And what elementary school student wouldn't like to be able to disregard the inside voices rule, even if it was only for a little while.

"The kids work really hard during the day," Pothast said. "They do a nice job of following our school rules, this is just a fun event with a lot of yelling and screaming in the halls."

Today, Mrs. Authur's sixth-grade class will be delivering the food to the food bank. Last year, Hale said Redoubt Elementary donated about 1,240 pounds of food. Since the format was the same, and the outcome very similar, Hale expects about the same if not more pounds will be donated this year.

Logan Tuttle can be reached at