Kindergarteners run charitable diner

June 14, 2012 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

And, students at Kingsley Elementary School are doing it for a good cause.

The kindergarteners are closing out the school year by executing a business they've been planning for much of the school year. At Room 101's diner, students, teachers and parents can get a hot dog, an old-fashioned milkshake and some of the best service around.

"There were some hostesses and they were great at their jobs, I saw some kids cleaning up, I saw some kids serving, some kids running the register, some running at the kitchen, like they did a great job," Tiffany Providence, parent, said.

The students take their jobs seriously.

"I get to try different jobs and it's really fun because I actually never worked at a real diner before," Sitara Ruts, 6, said.

They also understand that it's serious business.

"We are getting lots of tips," Emmett Robinson, 6, said.

The idea behind it all came along before any of these young entrepreneurs were around. Teacher Randy Heite was inspired by a student early in his teaching career.

"About 17 years ago we read a story 'In The Diner' and one of the girls raised her hand and asked, 'You know, can we start our own diner?' And I thought, 'Well, that's a great idea," Heite said. "The kids fill out job applications. They apply for the jobs. They come back the next day with their job applications. We kind of have a discussion of who is going to fill what position. So then every year we decide as a group what we'll do with our profits."

This year, all $950 in proceeds will go to the Whole Planet and Whole Kids Foundation, which helps finance school gardens and to a group called Kiva, which gives micro-loans in developing countries. The students are clear on why they are giving away their hard-earned cash.

"Because it would be kind and caring," Sitara Ruts said.

Heite has received a National Walt Disney American Teaching Award and a Kohl McCormick Early Education Teaching Award. He is also a Golden Apple Foundation honoree.

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