Fifth-graders are used to their teachers barraging them with questions: What is five times seven? What is the capital of Connecticut? Who was the first president of the United States? Nevertheless, one question consistently catches them off guard.
Would you like fries with that?
As part of McDonald’s McEducation program, about a dozen teachers and administrators from Fair Haven Middle School tended the counter and drive-through at the Kimberly Avene McDonald’s in New Haven Wednesday, raising money to purchase library books.
The activity was part of a nationwide effort by McDonald’s.
Teachers worked at the restaurant from 4 to 8 p.m. and earned their school 20 percent of the profits and a minimum of $300. For McDonald’s, the program served a dual purpose.
“We encourage all of the teachers to see what we do at McDonald’s and we are trying to serve the community at the same time,” said Raymond Vernet, a McDonald’s area supervisor. He also pointed out the walls of the restaurant, which had been decorated for the occasion with pictures drawn by Fair Haven’s fifth-graders. The designs featured the golden arches, Ronald McDonald, and other recognizable symbols of the global fast-food juggernaut.
In Fair Haven’s case, the money from McEducation will go towards purchasing books and encouraging reading among its 200 fifth-graders.
“We are using it to enhance our literacy campaign,” said Celeste Davis, assistant principal of Fair Haven Middle School. “We are a facility that doesn’t have a library.” Because the middle school is being renovated, the fifth-grade classes are held at a location far from the school’s books.
The teachers began the afternoon by touring the McDonald’s and learning how to use the cash register, fry cooker, and drive-through window. Then, with help from employees, they served customers and prepared the food.
In addition to the fund raising, teacher Louis Pozzuoli said he saw an additional advantage to students seeing their teachers outside of the classroom.
“It gives our students a chance to see us in a different situation,” Pozzuoli said. “It’s great community relations.”
Nicholas Bonilla, a Fair Haven student, said he was surprised to see his teachers scooping fries and trying to decipher the symbols on the cash register.
“Its really funny because they are teachers and they don’t look like they belong here,” Bonilla said.
In addition to the teachers, several of the students and parents from Fair Haven helped out. Bonilla said he was happy that he was allowed to help his teachers and wanted to try his hand at actually preparing some of the food himself.
“I was surprised when Ms. Davis, my principal, said I was helping out,” Bonilla said from behind the counter. “Its fun, I’ve never been back here.”
Davis said she was happy to see one of her former students, Rigo Tores, who graduated in 1998 and who now works at the McDonald’s.
But for Tores, the chance encounter was somewhat uncomfortable.
“Its weird,” he said.