An aspiring brigade of “master pizza chefs” invaded Marion Pizza Hut on Thursday.
Marion Head Start classes took a learning journey to the local business as part of their restaurant unit, teacher Lesli Beery said.
“Many of them have been here before but might not have known where their pizza comes from,” Beery said. “It’s nice for them to see how it’s made.”
Pizza Hut manager Danyal Hamm received morning and afternoon classes at the door, where each child chose a favorite colored miniature apron.
“It’s fun,” Hamm said. “I love it. I get to play with the kids.”
Hamm said she values community involvement, especially with the schools.
The children washed their hands before touring the franchise’s kitchen. Many a shivering smile appeared as children witnessed the cave-like depths of a walk-in cooler and all its mysterious contents.
Hamm then led the children to a stainless steel prep area where she revealed a cornucopia of pizza toppings.
Hamm sprinkled cheese on the shiny silver counter, and the children became fascinated by scraping it into food refuse holes.
“I’m impressed,” Hamm said. “They cleaned up the mess so well.”
After the kitchen tour, they filed through the dining room to a private party where groups teamed up to make pizzas.
Each piled cheese upon a pizza crust and decorated it with pieces of pepperoni and little mountains of beef.
“We’ve got a bunch of little master pizza chefs,” Hamm said during one pizza creation.
Children were asked what were their favorite toppings.
“I love cheese,” one preschooler said. “It’s why we came here,” another added.
Cheese pizza seemed to be the overwhelming majority the afternoon class preferred, but some loved pepperoni, too.
“Cheese is by far the most popular pizza among kids,” Hamm said. “Meat is like vegetables to a little kid — they just don’t like it.”
Children then had a pizza party, drew different pizza pictures including a robot pizza, cat pizza, and a self-portrait pizza.
Beery also read “Hi, Pizza Man” where any number of different animals brought pizza to the main character’s door.
Hamm gave children gift bags of pizza-themed paraphernalia, and they got to keep their aprons.
“It was a good opportunity to engage the kids at a local business,” Beery said.
Beery said Head Start has one learning journey a year in their budget, but this pizza pilgrimage was funded by box tops students collected, so another journey is still possible this year.