Pattengill’s Power Mondays provide career inspiration and more

A group of students learns just how much sugar is in soda and health beverages thanks to a Power Monday session at Pattengill Elementary.
A group of students learns just how much sugar is in soda and health beverages thanks to a Power Monday session at Pattengill Elementary.

By Tara Cavanaugh

Mondays at Pattengill Elementary are about potential.

That’s because the school’s Power Monday program provides students opportunities to interact with adults who are impacting the Ann Arbor community.

The adults chat with students about their job or volunteer work, lead a short educational activity, and inspire students to consider their own future career aspirations.

The boys and girls can even wear neckties to the sessions to help them feel like grown-up professionals. Pattengill Principal Ché Carter, who created the January-May program, has a supply of donated neck ties. He even teaches students how to properly tie them.

The Power Monday program has already featured a former ESPN reporter, a lawyer and an engineer. Students voluntarily sign up for sessions they find interesting and attend during their lunchtime recess. 

This week’s Power Monday session featured Debbie Tirico, a board member and volunteer basketball coach at the Ann Arbor YMCA. Tirico, who is also a parent of students at Wines and Forsythe, talked with students about her volunteer work at the Y and the importance of giving back to the community.

“You can make an impact every single day,” Tirico said to a group of fifth grade students. “I bet you already do make an impact, if you think about it.”

Tirico lead students through an activity to help students learn about sugar in sports drinks and soda. She gave each student a can of soda and showed them where to find the nutrition information on the label. She then asked them to estimate just how much sugar was in each can. The students showed their best estimates by measuring teaspoons of sugar into plastic bags.

The students were shocked to learn just how much sugar was in a can of Sprite or even a beverage such as Vitamin Water, which is marketed as a health drink.

Tirico explained the health effects of having too much sugar in one’s diet, and then she encouraged the students to think about the big picture.

“How would something like this, these really sugary drinks, impact your community?” she said. “It could make people chubby,” said one student. “It could make people unhealthy,” said another.

“I’m impacting a community of this group of kids here,” Tirico said. “Now you can go home, and by sharing this information, impact your own community.”

When we think about impacting our community, we often think about doing big things, Tirico added. “But those little things can really make a difference too!”

If you’d like to know more about the Power Monday program, contact Pattengill Principal Ché Carter at



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