Ephriam’s popcorn influenced by childhood memories

Emma McBride, Staff Writer

Two students are walking to lunch after class when suddenly they smell the fresh, buttery scent of popcorn around the corner. Excitedly, they cheer in unison as they hurry to the yellow hallway to receive popcorn from LASA’s security guard, Ray Ephriam.

Ephriam has many duties around LASA as a security guard. Students may see him outside after school directing students to their buses, or giving teachers furniture for their rooms. However, he is best recognized by LASA students as the man who hands out popcorn, and sometimes even hotdogs to students during lunch. Students get the snacks completely free of charge under one condition: those that wish to receive popcorn must have their school ID on them. The idea first came to Ephriam fairly recently.

“It was about three years ago when the popcorn machine was put on the back porch to go to the trash because it had died,” Ephriam said. “And Mr. Fischer, through his research, went online and found a part for the popcorn machine.”

Ephriam could have easily just left the popcorn machine where it was and not have done anything about it. But, he followed through due to a fond childhood memory of his.

“When I was in elementary school, about every other week, we would have a movie that we would watch, and they would pop popcorn,” Ephriam said. “At that time, if you had a nickel or dime, you could buy a bag of popcorn to go with you to the movie, and most of the time, we didn’t have the money. It was kind of cruel sitting and watching the movie and seeing some of the people eating popcorn while we had nothing. So, I just decided if I ever had a chance to do that, it would never happen again.”

Sophomore Louisa McDaniel appreciates what Ephriam does for LASA students. She thinks his popcorn service, as well as all he does behind the scenes for students are valuable.

“I know that he goes to the AISD used furniture warehouse to get stuff for teachers,” McDaniel said. “He does a lot of behind the scenes stuff that we don’t realize, and I think also the popcorn thing does a lot for morale.”

Students are not the only ones recognizing what Ephriam does for LASA. Attendance specialist Claudia Villarreal appreciates all the hard work he puts in behind the scenes.

“I think my favorite part about what he does is that he does it selflessly,” Villarreal said. “He doesn’t think about how it makes him look or anything like that. He does it because he wants to do it. He does it so cheerfully, and he does it, like I said, so selflessly.”

Seeing as Ephriam doesn’t ask for payment for the popcorn, he isn’t getting anything in return. Villarreal believes that there are some things that students can do for him as the year comes to an end.

“Knowing the way Mr. Ephriam is, he would probably not ask for anything,” Villarreal said. “I think just a thank you, something like that, would be pretty much good for him. Although, I do know he likes donuts. He does like donuts, he does like tacos, but aside from that, I do kind of think just kind of like[s] a thank you.”

As the school year comes to an end and a new one begins, new freshmen are coming to LASA who might not feel comfortable right away in a new setting. Ephriam has a theory that his popcorn service may help students feel better off next year.

“I see it as something to look forward to,” Ephriam said. “I always look at popcorn as a way to reward the students for working hard, being on time, carrying their IDs, not skipping class, all of those sorts of things. It’s like, in life, everything you do, you get rewarded for. We always want to have incentives for students and adults doing what they’re supposed to do.”

People don’t always fully acknowledge all that Ephriam does for this school, according to Villarreal. They encourage students to try to take a second to thank him and show their appreciation whenever they go to get popcorn or a hotdog from him.

“I think it just kind of makes the kids’ day,” Villarreal said. “I think he understands what the students go through on a daily basis in class and things, even at home. It could be stressful at times, so I just kind of think he figures ‘let me just kind of shake it up a little bit and give them something to put a smile on their face.”