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Lunch buddies with Chris Decker
Chris Decker, first-year principal at Rumford Elementary School, has started a practice of selecting students to eat lunch with him in his office. Clockwise, from Decker's right, are Madison Russell, Casey Cormier, Christian Gardner, Riley Sevigny and Ethan Casey. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
RUMFORD -- Chris Decker, first-year principal at Rumford Elementary School, has started a practice of selecting students to eat lunch with him in his office.
On this day, fourth graders Madison Russell, Casey Cormier, Christian Gardner, Riley Sevigny and Ethan Casey enjoyed lunch with their principal. All had had lunch with Decker earlier in the school year.
Riley asked, "Do you like the color pink? You have a pink lava lamp."
Decker said he does, and the conversation evolved to the fact he owns a pink shirt.
"Real men can wear pink," noted Christian.
Ethan quickly chimed in, "You should wear your pink shirt sometime."
The youngsters then began discussing sports and outside activities they are involved in, including Casey and Ethan talking about the recently completed Area Youth Football season.
Decker noted, "Kids' success in school are usually tied in with doing outside activities."
Gardner said he can't wait to make the perfect snow fort. Riley said she thinks she's going to try snowboarding this winter.
Decker noted that Feb. 14 will be a special day for the school when they'll spend the day doing activities at Black Mountain.
Then they talked about pro football and the Patriots, particularly the Gronkowski injury and when he'll return.
"I had been out of elementary education for 13 years, but I'm amazed how compassionate and sincere kids are at this level. I'm also impressed with how this community gets involved with the school," noted the principal.
And though Decker has nothing to compare it to, since he's started with the lunch buddies, he finds he has been getting more hugs and high fives from students as he traverses the hallways.
Often times, a common subject with students is what kind of tie Decker is wearing. "The kids are expecting a Loony Toons or Disney tie. Besides character ties, I also wear a lot of Christmas and winter ties."
He said his collection of ties now numbers more than a hundred.
Decker said the real young students are particularly chatty during lunch buddies, so much so that he often has to remind them to eat their meal before lunch time has ended.