As with any new initiative, the first year is full of surprises. When the USD 382-Pratt Board of Education voted to implement a summer lunch program, we weren't sure what to expect. How many students will show up? Will their parents accompany them? Will we have any volunteers? Will the community support this endeavor?

As we wrap up the final week of serving lunches, I can safely say the program exceeded our expectations. Director Laci Brown and cooks Pat Jellison and Debbie Hawke made sure children had a tasty lunch in an orderly and efficient manner. On the average, 100 to 120 students ate a healthy lunch each day. Some parents ate with their children; others sat and visited while their children enjoyed the lunch. Volunteers worked the room, cleaning tables and clearing trays. Budget expectations were met, as well as the inspection criteria. All in all, it was a great summer program.

Our success does not solely belong to USD 382. We asked for help from the community to make sure we could make ends meet. Many stepped forward. I want to thank these individuals and organizations who generously donated: Cindy Eisenhauer, Bill and Diana Harris, Tom and Judy Brungardt, Gamma Kappa Chapter, Cairo EHU, Laureate Chi Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, Ninnescah Valley Archers, Kilwinning Lodge No. 265, the Pratt Optimist Club, the Rebekah Guild from First United Methodist Church, and Chapter F of the PEO Sisterhood. A big thank you to the Pratt County Ministerial Alliance for donating the table service and napkins for over 300 lunches.

Special thanks to our volunteers who came every week and helped where needed: Kay and Rodney Lesh, Rita Phillippi, Jan Mertz, Flo Parsons, and Barb Sangster. Many thanks to Bruce Pinkall and the Pratt Recreation staff who coordinated plans with us and then made sure the plans worked. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to our employees for jumping on board and making sure the program worked.

I am grateful and proud to live in a community where the needs of children are supported. My hope is that our children will remember the positive role models who helped provide a free summer lunch to them and pay it forward as adults. We will all benefit if the legacy of generosity continues.

Suzan Patton is the superintendent of USD 382.