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Kemper students tell council about their White House trip

Five kids were invited to plant garden with Michelle Obama
Kemper Elementary student Christian Rebaza tells Cortez City Council members about the Montezuma School to Farm Project’s trip to Washington D.C. to plant the White House kitchen garden with First Lady Michelle Obama. Miles Frost, Gael Garcia and Trenity Tillahash also went on the trip, along with chaperones Danyel Mezzanatto and Patrick Alford.

Four Kemper Elementary fourth-graders who visited Washington, D.C. to help First Lady Michelle Obama plant the White House Kitchen Garden gave a presentation to the Cortez City Council at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Miles Frost, Gael Garcia, Christian Rebaza and Trenity Tillahash, along with chaperones Danyel Mezzanatto and Patrick Alford, told council members about their experience traveling to the nation’s capital. A fifth student, Cecelia Thom, made the trip in April but was not able to join her classmates at the meeting Tuesday.

The students, along with about 40 kids from school programs in Louisiana, Wisconsin, Georgia and New Jersey were invited to plant the garden. They traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Montezuma School to Farm Project, a program of the Mancos Conservation District.

For most of the students, the trip was their first time flying on an airplane and visiting Washington, D.C. During the garden planting, Miles worked in a garden bed alongside the first lady.

“We talked about what we plant at school,” he said.

Miles added that it was his first time flying and the trip was a lot of fun. He said the food in Washington was really good.

“All I ate there was pepperoni pizza,” he said.

Christian said he loved seeing all the buildings in Washington, D.C. He remembered discovering the news that he would be making the trip.

“My mom woke me up in the middle of the night to say I was going to the White House,” he said.

Trenity worked with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, planting the variety of lettuce that has been grown on the International Space Station. She also got to meet the Obama family dogs, Bo and Sunny.

Gael said he enjoyed visiting the famous buildings of the nation’s capital at night, especially the Lincoln Monument.

“It was really amazing when we went,” he said.

Zoe Nelsen, director of the Montezuma School to Farm Project, thanked the council members for the continued support for the program from the city of Cortez. The program may expand to more schools in the Re-1 School District this summer, including new gardens at Mesa and Manaugh elementary schools, she said.

“We’re honored to be here,” Nelsen said. “We’re honored to be a part of this thriving organization that has lots of local support.”

Council members asked the students questions about the trip. Mayor Pro Tem Ty Keel said he wanted to start planting kale in his garden this summer. He asked the students if they had any tips, to which they offered some tongue-in-cheek advice: “Water it.”

Mayor Karen Sheek congratulated the students and thanked them for visiting the council.

“We’re glad you had a wonderful time,” she said. “You will be leaders next year.”

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