Kemper Elementary students Miles Frost, Gael Garcia, Christian Rebaza, Cecelia Thom and Trenity Tillahash were invited back to Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 6 to help harvest the White House kitchen garden with first lady Michelle Obama.
The same group of students helped plant vegetables in the garden in April, along with students from school garden programs in Wisconsin, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. They traveled through the Montezuma School to Farm Project. Celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Frankie Celenza also helped harvest the produce and cook a meal.
“We had a good time,” Trenity said. “It was fun and awesome.”
They helped harvest vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli and peas to cook a vegetable curry with Indian naan. After harvesting and cooking, Michelle Obama sat down at the table with the Kemper students to share the meal.
They talked with the first lady about how fun it was to be back and how fast the plants had grown, Christian said. Miles said he taught the first lady how to say “hummingbird” and a few other words in Navajo.
Trenity said she talked to Ray about her shows and how her mom learned how to cook from watching her shows.
“It was cool meeting a really famous chef,” Christian said.
The kids also were invited to a presentation at the White House, where President Barack Obama honored the Denver Broncos for their Super Bowl championship last winter. The group didn’t get to meet the team or the president, but they were sitting about 40 feet away during the ceremony.
“It was cool to see the Broncos and the president,” Miles said. “I got really excited when we got to see the Broncos.”
The Broncos gave the president a helmet and a No. 44 jersey, in honor of the 44th president. After the presentation, the group met Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner and took a photo with him.
The kids also went to the zoo in Washington, D.C. They saw giant pandas, leopards, cheetahs and a snake, Gael said. Some of Cecelia’s favorite animals at the zoo were the flamingos and the zebras, she said.
They also got to go swimming at their hotel during the trip, Trenity said. She learned how to swim at the hotel after a day in the hot summer weather.
“We got some cool water for swimming,” she said.
Cecelia said she had fun taking the subway and seeing some of the memorials. It was cool walking around the big city, she said.
“It felt amazing,” Cecelia said.
MSTFP School Garden Coordinator Danyel Mezzanatto, who was a chaperone on the trip, said the kids were adventurous on this trip, trying new things and getting out of their comfort zones.
“It was fun to witness the growth of the kids over the trip,” she said.
Despite some flight delays because of thunderstorms, Mezzanatto said the kids were in great spirits all the way through the trip. She said it was very positive and fun all around. “I can’t believe we had the opportunity to go again,” Mezzanatto said. “They’re a pretty lucky group of kids.”