“Hi darlin.’ How are you today?”
That’s how Marjo Mulderink greets all the students who come into the Attendance Office at Laredo Middle School. Some of the students are brand new and feeling nervous. Others are tardy, still sleepy and sometimes a little grumpy. But nearly all the students leave the office feeling better, sporting a smile and sometimes munching on a spoonful of M&M’s, plain or peanut.
That’s because Ms. Marjo, as students call her, is Laredo’s M&M lady. She’s a big fan of the chocolate candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand. In fact, she has an extensive collection of M&M memorabilia - more than 1,000 items! There are M&M figurines of every size, from teeny tiny to four feet tall. There are curtains, clothing and calendars; jars, dishes and dispensers; earrings, necklaces and watches. They’re all adorned with the colorful candy characters and they’re all on display in the Laredo Attendance Office.
“When you get called to the attendance office you think you’re going to get in trouble and it shouldn’t be that way,” Mulderink said. “I want our students, especially new students, to know this is a safe place, a fun place.”
Mulderink says her collection originally belonged to her son, Don. When he went away to college, she decided to bring it in to the office. Since then, Mulderink and her collection have made life a little sweeter for students and staff alike.
“Marjo Mulderink, our M&M lady, is a legend at Laredo,” said Principal Edie Alvarez.” Everyone knows who she is and where she is located.”