Chief Umtuch custodian connects with students through learning

This information was provided by the Battle Ground School District.

BATTLE GROUND — It’s lunchtime at Chief Umtuch Middle School, and a group of students seated at the tables in the corner of the lunchroom are abuzz with excitement.

However, it isn’t the cheesy pizza or nachos that has the students clamoring to be first in line; rather, it’s the chance to turn in their answers for custodian Lisa Swain’s monthly quiz.

Each school year, Chief Umtuch students can sign up to take part in voluntary quizzes administered by Swain during lunchtime. Topics on the quizzes include history, current events and fun facts about holidays. The October quiz, for example, asked students about the history of Columbus Day and Halloween.

A Chief Umtuch middle schooler completes his quiz answer sheet, administered by custodian Lisa Swain, during lunchtime. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools
A Chief Umtuch middle schooler completes his quiz answer sheet, administered by custodian Lisa Swain, during lunchtime. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools

“Quizzing the kids in the lunchroom shows that opportunities for learning are everywhere,” Swain said. “I’ve always loved learning the unexpected or little-known tidbits from history. I try to come up with questions that not only challenge the students to do a little digging and research on their own, but also that encourage them to look at topics and events in a whole new light.”

For example, you probably didn’t know that samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween or that the first Jack O’ Lanterns were carved from vegetables like turnips, potatoes and beets.

Thanks to Swain’s quizzes, the students at Chief Umtuch will be armed with a bevy of such trivia knowledge.

For Swain, organizing and administering the quizzes isn’t just about providing students with additional learning opportunities.

“These quizzes have really enabled me to further connect with the students at Chief Umtuch,” she said. “I love what I do, and establishing relationships with these kids makes my job even better.”

Lisa Swan, custodian at Chief Umtuch Middle School, quizzes students at the school during lunchtime. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools
Lisa Swan, custodian at Chief Umtuch Middle School, quizzes students at the school during lunchtime. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools

Swain has been quizzing the students at the middle school for several years. In exchange for turning in their completed answer sheets, she gives the students small treats as a reward.

“Lisa and the students really love these quizzes,” said principal Matt Kesler. “It’s just another example of one of the many things that make Chief Umtuch a great place to learn.”

Quizzes given to students by custodian Lisa Swain at Chief Umtuch Middle School cover a variety of topics, including history, current events and fun facts about holidays. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools
Quizzes given to students by custodian Lisa Swain at Chief Umtuch Middle School cover a variety of topics, including history, current events and fun facts about holidays. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools
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About The Author

Joanna Nicole Yorke is a 2010 graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in political science. Yorke is a Clark County native, growing up on her family's 12-acre farm in La Center where her family still resides today. She was previously a reporter at The Reflector Newspaper, covering the city of Battle Ground, the Battle Ground School District and a variety of other areas and topics.

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