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Middle school’s Thanksgiving senior luncheon

Posted: October 30, 2017

by Patty Reiman


Intergenerational camaraderie over a tasty Thanksgiving meal can be found at Hudson Middle School on Thursday, Nov. 16. The school will be hosting its annual lunchtime feast and welcomes community members, especially senior citizens, to the event.


It’s a middle school tradition spanning more than 35 years, according to Penny Tschantz, HMS secretary, who helps in coordinating the event with the school’s food service department.


“This is a special tradition at HMS as it reminds us as a school community to be thankful for all the we have,” said Tschantz.


Food Service employees go above and beyond their daily food preparations and cooking to create a wonderful buffet that is served to guests by middle school and Hudson City Schools district personnel, including teachers, support staff and administrators. Superintendent Phil Herman traditionally dons an apron and rolls up his sleeves to participate as a server alongside HMS Principal Dr. Kim Cockley.


“We love the opportunity to serve our students and guests and to celebrate Thanksgiving as an entire family,” said Cockley.


The menu consists of turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, vegetable, sweet potato casserole and dessert. Cost for the meal is $5 and is paid at the door; no reservations are required.


Interested guests should arrive at the middle school between 10:30 a.m. and noon on Nov. 16. They will be welcomed by student greeters, who will escort them to decorated tables, and will listen to music performed by an ensemble of middle school orchestra musicians. HMS student leaders who are involved in the event typically leave their regular lunch table in the cafeteria to spend a lunch period sitting with community guests and share the mealtime together.


One such student is Aidan McStay, an HMS eighth-grader, who plans to again help this year at the Thanksgiving luncheon.


“I chose to volunteer last year because it sounded like an interesting event and a good way to give back to our community,” he said.


McStay said he was especially interested in talking to military veterans and sought them out and showed them an HMS display just for them.


“I enjoy talking to the veterans because my grandpa is a Korean War veteran,” he said. “It was a good reminder that the students are not the only ones in this community.”


While everyone in the community is invited, the event traditionally has attracted approximately 50 guests, most of whom are senior citizens. In addition, there are some senior citizens who can’t get out and travel to the school for this special Thanksgiving lunch. 


“We are able to deliver food to some seniors who are unable to leave their home. For some, it is their only Thanksgiving meal,” said Tschantz.


Providing this Thanksgiving meal each year to the Hudson community was the brainchild of an outside food service contractor that the school district used to employ in the 1980s. When school lunches were brought back under the supervision of the school district, the popular November celebration continued under the direction of HCSD’s former food services director, Jennifer Roland. 


It has continued and grown over the years, and Tshcantz calls it, “a collaborative effort between the nutrition services department and HMS staff.” It is also a component of the Holiday Sharing program, where the students, teachers and staff at the school engage in activities to benefit those in need during a few weeks leading up to Christmas. 


For example, students team up to have friendly competitions to collect the most canned or boxed food items that are distributed locally. Theme days, such as pajama day, allow students to dress differently than usual if they contribute $1 to the Holiday Sharing fund. The result of these and other charitable activities has benefited hundreds in the local community and raised awareness among the students of charitable giving.


“Observing our students and our guests interact with one another is touching, celebrating the connections among us – and that we are all part of our larger Hudson family,” said Principal Cockley. “This is one of our favorite annual events at HMS. We are so grateful to celebrate together as a community.”

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