Generations Come Together for 20th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner

Post date: Dec 10, 2014 7:18:34 PM

The 20th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for area seniors presented by the eighth grade class at Wells Junior High School took place on November 16th. Within two hours, approximately 425 seniors had been served a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the school’s multi-purpose room.

Started in 1994 as a gesture of goodwill to the community, the dinner also serves as a service learning experience for eighth graders and the culmination of a five-week Generations Unit in Language Arts class taught by Julie Esch and Matt Coleman. In this class, students study issues related to aging and produce oral histories from interviews with residents of Sentry Hill at York Harbor.

In preparation for the feast, students made decorations, banners, napkins and decorated the dining room. They set up tables and chairs and also baked pies, On the day of the dinner students, dressed in white shirts and black slacks, greeted guests, seated them at their tables, worked in the kitchen, waited on tables and helped with clean-up. There was even a valet service provided by several high school seniors.

Occupational Therapist for WJHS and Wells High School Robin Reidy commented that she received “a full number of compliments” from many diners about the impressive work of the students. Reidy pointed out that each year brings a new group of eighth graders to work on this large event. “For some of the kids who have not had much training or served people ever, they really did a nice job stepping up,” said Reidy.

Eighth grader Lauren Bartlett was on the wait staff. With some initial trepidation about serving, Bartlett said that her job of taking orders and delivering meals to table 13 got easier as the dinner progressed. Bartlett indicated that some of the residents of Sentry Hill actually came by bus to the school a few days earlier in the week to visit and lunch with students.

Those affiliated with the Wells-Ogunquit Senior Center at Moody now make up a large portion of those who attend the Thanksgiving Dinner. “We think it is absolutely wonderful what the children do,” said Sheena Allara, Director of the Wells-Ogunquit Senior Center in Moody. Allara said that the 10 year old Center thanks the students for the dinner by making a donation to the dinner and, in June, holding an ice cream sundae party for the eighth graders. “It is juniors and seniors coming together,” said Allara.

WJHS Principal Chris Chessie offered his perspective on the large event. “It is a great opportunity for our kids and our school to give back to our community,” said Chessie. “And it is a way for us to build bridges between the many generations that come here, and learn from one another and to share. It’s just a golden opportunity for people in the community to socialize…and to share this experience.” Chessie believes that the dinner helps to reinforce school core values including respect and compassion for one other.”

School Secretary Vicki Aldridge has helped organize these dinners for 20 years. She and Principal Chessie wish to thank the following for their donations to this year’s dinner: The entire eighth grade class, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter of The Wells IGA (for the donation of 24 turkeys), Gary Leech of Congdon’s Doughts (for cooking the turkeys), PFG Northcenter, (for donating half of the fixins), Fantini Bakery (for donating 30 dozen white rolls), Wells-Ogunquit Center in Moody (for a monetary donation), Wells Dunkin Donuts (for donating coffee), Chase Farm (for donating table pumpkins), Julie Esch, Matt Coleman, Susie Dugovic, Kerry Georgitis, Beth Cilluffo, Linda Gaidimas, Anne Gallo, Jane Garnsey, Brenda Brown, Bob McBreen, Dianne Hussey, Kim McDonough, Angie Norton, and Carroll Crouch. Thanks also goes to the Nutrition Service staff at WJHS including Jan Tessier, Betsi Johnson, Hugette St. Pierre, Jennifer Sayward and Director Tyler Goodwin who carved turkey and prepared the meal’s ‘fixins’ consisting of mashed potatoes, winter squash, peas, stuffing and gravy. A thank you also goes to the group of WHS seniors who offered a valet service.

Caption: 8th grade student kitchen and wait staff in the kitchen at WJHS on November 16th.

Caption: Member of wait staff Lauren Bartlett.