WJHS’s 19th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Serves Hundreds

Post date: Dec 02, 2013 3:31:2 PM

On November 17th, Wells Junior High School’s eighth grade class presented their 19th Annual WJHS Thanksgiving Dinner for area seniors. By 1:00 p.m. over 430 guests had been served a traditional holiday meal. The dinner this year came a week earlier than usual due to a school play planned for the following weekend.

Students made decorations, banners, napkins, baked pies, decorated the dining room and set up tables and chairs. On the day of the dinner students 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.

“This is a great opportunity for our kids to give back to the community and to serve community members,” said WJHS Principal Chris Chessie who finds it wonderful to see kids serving relatives and neighbors.

The dinner also marks the end 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 in society and produce oral histories from interviewing residents of Sentry Hill at York Harbor. In regards to the dinner project this year, Esch said that the “kids did an outstanding job as always. They’re so focused and dedicated.”

“The eighth grade teachers have worked hard to imbed this as part of their curriculum in a big unit they do in studying generations,” said Assistant Principal Robert Griffin who pointed out that the dinner is voluntary for students. Besides noting how hard students work Griffin also pointed out that students long remember their experience on the dinner. “Folks who are now in their twenties and thirties who participated in this talk of this. This is what they remember as their ‘big thing’ in junior high school.

Dan Dickerson of Wells was one of the dinner guests on Sunday. “I think it is fantastic what these kids do,” said Dickerson. “They do it very well and it teaches them a little responsibility.” Dickerson looked over at students working and he said “that's the future right there.” Dickerson added that half of his church's congregation was eager to come to this dinner.

Like his classmates, eighth grade student Liam Bell dressed for the day in black slacks and a white shirt. “It was a lot of fun,” said Bell after most of the dinner guests had left. He said he didn't expect as many people to show up as eventually did. According to him, the attendance at this dinner was the largest ever for the school. Bell said he was able to interview a resident at Sentry Hill at York Harbor when he and his classmates paid a visit there as part of their Generations unit.

School Secretary Vicki Aldridge, who has worked on and helped organize these dinners for 19 years, provided a list of people and businesses that WJHS wished to thank for help with the 2013 dinner. That list included Mr. and Mrs. Hunter of The Wells Super Food Market IGA (for donating the 24 turkeys), Gary Leech of Congdon’s Doughnuts (for cooking the turkeys), Wells-Ogunquit Center at Moody, Wells Dunkin’ Donuts, Chase Farm in Wells (for the donation of pumpkins for the tables), several WHS seniors who provided valet parking, and several members of the WOCSD Nutritional Services staff: Tyler Goodwin, Jan Tessier, Betsi Johnson, Hugette St.. Pierre, and Meredith Hatch.

A dinner scene at WJHS on November 17, 2013

Teachers Julie Esch (at center, smiling) with eighth grade students and Matt Coleman (at far right) standing just inside dining room.