Richland paraeducator dresses up as T-Rex as kids pick up school lunch

RICHLAND, Wash. – Kids across the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas have been picking up their lunches from school for a few weeks.

At a Richland elementary school, they’re greeted by a special someone – someone with a big head and little arms. Noah Kerstetter is a paraeducator at Badger Mountain Elementary. He’s also now known as Mr. Dino.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to connect with the kids more and more since we can’t do it traditionally with the social distancing that’s going on,” he said. “I saw this online for sale. I thought, you know what – this would put a smile on their face.”

He bought an inflatable T-Rex costume. The outfit has taken social media by storm with people doing funny pranks and greetings while wearing it.

“It’s been cool though to see them still, even at a distance,” Kerstetter said. ”Interacting with them a little bit.”

Kerstetter has only been at Badger Mountain Elementary for two months. He was previously a substitute paraeducator across the district.

While he said he doesn’t know all the students yet, he’s happy he can bring smiles to kids and parents. Some even asking their parents where Mr. Dino is.

“I think this helps ease their minds,” he explained. “Puts a little bit of consistency and normalcy back in their lives.”

Kerstetter has only worn the costume twice at the elementary school. He plans to reach out to other schools to spread his little arms and big heart with other kids.

“We miss you. We look forward to seeing you come back [to school],” he said. “A lot of smiles.  A lot of happy faces.”