Old Rochester Regional eighth graders learned some lessons on giving this Thanksgiving during its annual banquet last Sunday, November 20.
That day, the entire eighth grade class continued the long-standing tradition of serving a Thanksgiving meal to Tri-Town seniors. “After 21 years, we know how to get it done,” said Principal Kevin Brogioli as the students made rounds to about 250 seniors dining in the school’s cafeteria. An additional 50 meals were delivered directly to seniors at their homes.
On the menu: turkey, squash, corn, potatoes, cranberries and apple cider – all of the staples of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Apple pie desert finished off the feast. The Marion and Mattapoisett Police Department make substantial contributions to keep the tradition alive, according to organizers.
Erica Ponte, a special education teacher who coordinated the project with fellow teacher Hope Perkins, beamed at the students. “They’ve been doing great,” she said. The seniors, too, seemed to enjoy the event, she said. “They seem to be so excited to spend time with friends.”
She said that eighth graders not only served the food, but solicited local businesses for donations for a cherished part of the event: post-dinner door prizes. Ms. Ponte said about 60 businesses donated gifts that are handed out by lottery to dozens of lucky diners. Principal Brogioli reads out the winners’ names over the microphone as the eighth graders hand deliver their wrapped prizes.
As the presents were handed out, seniors Cathie West, Louis Ennis and Evelyn Pursley reflected on the event.
“They do a great job every year. The pie was delicious,” said Ms. West, who has attended for three years.
Ms. Ennis – who said she has been coming again and again over the past decade – appreciated what the event means for the students. “I think it’s wonderful. It teaches students aspects of so many things. They learn a lot.”
“Yes, it was very good. They need to be congratulated on the wonderful job they do every year,” Ms. Pursley said.
Superintendent Doug White also was present at the event, greeting the seniors at their tables. He said the event is an “authentic opportunity for [the eighth graders] to gain skill sets and build interpersonal skills.”
“They did a wonderful job,” he added.
By Laura Fedak Pedulli