Farmington • Grace Larsen, principal of Knowlton Elementary School, stood on the stage in front of her students at the first assembly of the year and told the kids that she sometimes giggles while slumbering.
"I laugh in my sleep because I get so excited about being with you students," said Larsen. "I am principal of the best school in the world."
The principal's attitude is contagious, and her energy spreads to both her students and their parents.
Larsen had even more to be excited about on Sept. 7, when Smith's Food and Drug Store representative Gary Blackhurst presented Knowlton with a check for $18,615.90, the school's share of Smith's Earn & Learn Program for the past year.
Knowlton is smaller than many other schools in Utah, but the enthusiasm that Larsen generates pours into the community. Larsen has been known to go to Smiths stores in Bountiful and St. George to pass out her school's Earn & Learn bar codes to shoppers, educating them about the program and encouraging them to support her school.
Apparently Larsen's tactics have been successful. A total of 15,000 schools over seven states are enrolled in the program. Knowlton received the second-largest payment in Utah, edged out by Park City's Trailside Elementary, which received $27,764.03. Knowlton was the third-highest awarded school in the multistate program.
Smith's has given $15.4 million to schools since the company's Earn & Learn program began in 2000. In Utah 625 public and private K-12 schools received $611,934.16.
Anyone with a Smith's Fresh Value card can go online and link their card to the Earn & Learn school of their choice. Each time they shop at Smith's a percentage of their spending will be allocated to the school they have selected.
Over the past six years Knowlton has received $102,000 from Smiths. How the money is used is up to the individual schools discretion. Knowlton has used its money in the past to build a track in the back of the school for students and the community, create a computer lab, buy books and to keep its music teacher on staff.
"The track is great because the kids can run on it in the winter," said Melody Bruce, co-president of the parent teacher organization at Knowlton.
"We have been able to buy lots of text books and technology plus every year, every grade level gets extra field trips because of Smiths. They reinforce the fact that we are all working together for students to learn. Smiths is a valuable partnership with our school," Larsen said.
Davis County School superintendent Dr. Bryan Bowles visited 20 schools per day during the first week of classes. He attended the assembly at Knowlton and used Principal Larsen's favorite word fabulous to describe Knowlton and the grant money they received. "This money makes a big difference and we put it to really good use for our students," Bowles said.