Oak Grove hosts second barbecue for emergency personnel

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BRATTLEBORO — First responders shared stories over lunch Wednesday with a younger segment of the population.

"I think that it's amazing we get to talk to some of the police officers and firefighters who serve our town," sixth grader Priya Kitzmiller told the Reformer. "We might not know them but they do so much for us."

Oak Grove School Principal Jeri Curry told the Reformer the school started holding the First Responder Barbecue Lunch last year. Fire, police and rescue personnel are invited to drop by and read to the kids or show off fire trucks.

"We thought we wanted to have them come by and eat with us," Curry said. Brattleboro Town School District's food service contractor Fresh Picks Cafe "donates most of the food for the adults."

On the menu Wednesday were burgers, baked beans, potato salad and watermelon wedges. Curry said the lunch is meant for kids to see that adults in uniform are "friends and here to help."

"I like talking with them," said Cooper Davis, first grader.

He called the food "really good." He asked one police officer to name his favorite thing from the ocean. The answer: "Humpback whales."

Police Chief Mike Fitzgerald told the Reformer he has fun answering all the students' questions.

"Believe me, they catch you off guard," he said. "Some are shy, some are outgoing."

Fitzgerald said the kids get to see a different side of police officers, firefighters and rescue workers.

"I'll tell you what, teachers don't get paid enough," he said.

Students were excited and so were first responders, said firefighter Tim Sikorski.

"Honestly, it's a great experience," he said. "It's great community outreach."

Sikorski just started last month. He moved from Farmington, Conn., after being hired by the department.

"I've absolutely fallen in love with the town since," he said. "It's just a fun state."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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