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Colo-Nesco receives a big surprise from McDonald’s

Colo-Nesco High School Principal Brandon Kelley, left, shakes the hand of Ronald McDonald and Superintendent Dr. Jim Verlengia (third from left) shakes the hand of Jim Baker, owner of several local McDonald’s restaurants, as a check from McDonald’s USA is presented to the district to recognize its achievement in creative thinking. Baker told the school he appreciated the district’s support of teacher John Cisna and students (pictured from left) Savannah Deupree, Tanner Clatt and Grant Tiarks, who proved that you could eat McDonald’s foods responsibly and lose weight. (Photo by Marlys Barker)Buy Photo
Colo-Nesco High School Principal Brandon Kelley, left, shakes the hand of Ronald McDonald and Superintendent Dr. Jim Verlengia (third from left) shakes the hand of Jim Baker, owner of several local McDonald’s restaurants, as a check from McDonald’s USA is presented to the district to recognize its achievement in creative thinking. Baker told the school he appreciated the district’s support of teacher John Cisna and students (pictured from left) Savannah Deupree, Tanner Clatt and Grant Tiarks, who proved that you could eat McDonald’s foods responsibly and lose weight. (Photo by Marlys Barker)
John Cisna, the Colo-Nesco teacher who completed a six-month McDonald’s-only diet and lost 60 pounds, is held up by Ronald McDonald following an all-school assembly in which the district was presented $10,000 from McDonald’s. (Photo by Marlys Barker)Buy Photo
John Cisna, the Colo-Nesco teacher who completed a six-month McDonald’s-only diet and lost 60 pounds, is held up by Ronald McDonald following an all-school assembly in which the district was presented $10,000 from McDonald’s. (Photo by Marlys Barker)
Ronald McDonald high-fives numerous Colo-Nesco middle school students as they leave the gym following an assembly. (Photo by Marlys Barker)Buy Photo
Ronald McDonald high-fives numerous Colo-Nesco middle school students as they leave the gym following an assembly. (Photo by Marlys Barker)

By Marlys Barker

The Colo-Nesco School District got a real “McDeal” last Friday.

At a pep assembly held March 28 at the end of the school day, the district was presented a $10,000 check by Jim Baker. He is the owner of several area McDonald’s restaurants, including the one in Nevada where Colo-Nesco science teacher John Cisna ate most of his meals for the past six months, free of charge, in an experiment to show that he could lose weight eating just McDonald’s foods.

Now, Baker quipped, “I’m going to make some money again,” since Cisna’s experiment is completed.

Baker said he was representing McDonald’s locally and McDonald’s USA in recognizing the Colo-Nesco School District for its leadership, allowing a teacher to challenge his students to think outside the box.

Cisna and three students, Savannah Deupree, Tanner Clatt and Grant Tiarks, worked together this past fall on a biology project, where Cisna ate nothing but McDonald’s food for three months to show that he could lose weight as long as he watched his caloric intake and got adequate exercise.

A special guest of the assembly was Ronald McDonald, who brought along a bag of materials that weighed 60 pounds – the amount of weight that Cisna lost after continuing the diet an additional three months beyond when the science class project had concluded. Ronald asked the kids to carry that bag across the gym, as proof that 60 pounds is a considerable amount of weight.

Along with the money, McDonald’s also recently treated Cisna, Deupree, Clatt and Tiarks to a trip to its corporate headquarters in Chicago. Baker got to travel along with the group and mentioned that he had enjoyed being part of it. The students shared that they had enjoyed seeing the corporate headquarters; making their own personal Big Macs and, of course, eating them and touring the Windy City in a limousine.

Colo-Nesco Superintendent Dr. Jim Verlengia said he wanted all students at Colo-Nesco to remember that the work Cisna and his students did should help students realize the importance of “choice.”

“You can see the success of hard work and dedication … everyone can be successful, depending on how they choose to use the skill set they have,” Verlengia said.

Verlengia said the huge amount of success that Cisna and his students had with their project, and the way that news of the project’s success put Colo-Nesco into the spotlight, means that Colo-Nesco is most certainly — as the story about a little train goes — “the little district that could.”

Verlengia said he is putting together a committee to determine how the Colo-Nesco District will use the funds they have received from McDonald’s. “We will focus on the educational opportunities this provides,” he said.

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