Wilson Elementary School’s pancake breakfast is so well-established, Principal Kathy Milburn can’t even pinpoint when it began.

“I’ve been here for 28 years and I can’t trace it,” Milburn said. “When I arrived as a teacher, it was very entrenched.”

It’s no surprise that the breakfast is a crowd-pleaser. Bundled up kids raced through the frosty morning in an effort to get inside for the food that awaited them. Parents, with mugs of coffees in their hands, greeted teachers with a smile.

“It’s my favorite event and our first big family event of the year,” Milburn said. “We get to enjoy the community and have breakfast together.”

Trustee Keith Gingery was spotted cramming his adult frame into the cafeteria benches. His father is actually the one who helped pick the school’s design — from an architect in Vermont — way back when.

Back in the kitchen, dads flipped pancakes, scrambled eggs and fried bacon.

“Once a year I’m back here with all these dads,” Food Service Director Diane Kinley said. “By now, it’s a well-oiled machine.”

Parent Brian Moore explained how it all works.

“The dads on the griddle are the ones whose kids are graduating this year,” he said. Moore has been helping coordinate the event for six years, and he has four more to go.

“They pick someone with the youngest kid,” he said.

Moore and the other cooks ribbed each other and joked around while cooking up the feast.

“It’s fun to do it for the kids,” he said. “It’s different because of all the dads.”

It’s a team effort, made easier by community donations. Elevated Grounds donated the coffee, Fine Dining Restaurant Group donated the food, the griddle came from the Lions Club, Corey Milligan donated apples and strawberries — organic, of course — and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization helped out with the paper goods. The breakfast was completely free for families and students.

The smell of pancakes wafted through the cafeteria as sticky fingers abounded.

When asked if she liked the breakfast, 9-year-old Winter Morgan said, “No. I love it.”

Superintendent Gillian Chapman mingled with the crowd and remarked that the event isn’t just for current Wilson Elementary students — the tradition just keeps going.

“It’s neat that kids come back to check it out when they’re in sixth grade, seventh grade,” Chapman said. “I walked in with a few of them this morning and they were excited to check out the first grade hall. One remarked that the school looked much smaller than they remembered.”

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079 or schools@jhnewsandguide.com.

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