Basalt students: Put down that candy, eat something healthy |

Basalt students: Put down that candy, eat something healthy

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Basalt Elementary School's Junior Chefs team — from left
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

The average fourth grader probably dreams more about candy bars and cookies than carrots and apples, but five students at Basalt Elementary School are in the running to earn prize money because of their plan to inspire healthy snacking.

A team of fourth graders in teacher Melissa Gatlin’s Enrichment Class will compete Tuesday in Imagine Colorado, a statewide innovation challenge designed to promote health and fitness among youth. The team, dubbed the Junior Chefs, is one of five finalists in the youth division of Imagine Colorado. There are also five adult finalists.

The team of students — Patrick Olson, Owen Lambert, Evi Keating, Joaquin Sandoval and Bengi Gusick — will pitch their idea today at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to a live audience that will include Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will present the awards.

The audience and a panel of celebrity judges will determine the winners, who will split $25,000 in prize money.

The students were honing their presentation in Ms. Gatlin’s class Monday morning, fielding questions from classmates. She had four teams of fourth graders and one of third graders submit videos for the competition. The Junior Chefs were selected out of the 79 total entries.

“I just thought, ‘Let’s try this,’” Gatlin told her students Monday. She had no expectations but was overjoyed that the Junior Chefs were selected.

She praised the efforts of the Junior Chefs as well as the teams that didn’t get selected.

“I hope you know I’m super proud of you,” she said.

With that, she had students ask questions of the Junior Chefs to prepare them for a public presentation. Remain calm, speak slowly, look the person who asked the question in the eye, Gatlin advised.

When asked to explain the team’s idea, Joaquin answered that the Junior Chefs figure that a cooking class in school was key to inspiring kids to eat healthy snacks. The cooking class would provide healthy options for students at school, he said. Patrick added that recipes of favorite healthy snacks would be available for students to take home.

The presentation needed some additional polish as the end of class neared. Gatlin noted the students will have additional time to work on their presentation on the long bus ride to Denver Tuesday morning.

Even if the Junior Chefs don’t pick up prize money, the exercise has already been a success, Gatlin said. The students in her class get a field trip to Denver, they will represent Basalt and get recognized by Gov. Hickenlooper.

“We’ve already won,” Gatlin said.

And the Junior Chefs just might snare a cash award. Gatlin said she hasn’t thought that far ahead. If they win, she said she would have to huddle with school administrators to determine how to use it.

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