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November 25, 2009

 

Freeville students feast on turkey

Elementary school serves its 37th annual Thanksgiving dinner

FeastBob Ellis/staff photographer
Freeville Elementary School staff serve Thanksgiving dinner to students Tuesday.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

FREEVILLE — The gym at Freeville Elementary School was filled with tables Tuesday, covered with white tablecloths and place settings in china and silver.
Steadily it filled with children, starting at about 11:28 a.m., as parents and teachers stood along the walls.
Music teacher Sandy Duncan led them all in singing “The Thankful Song,” complete with arm waving in unison. Then the turkey arrived on a wheeled table, to applause from around the room.
The school held its 37th annual Freeville Feast, complete with turkey, stuffing, corn, applesauce, mashed potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie. The meal, partly prepared by the children, followed what they have learned about the English Pilgrims’ landing in America and having a feast with American Indians.
The children, from kindergarten through second grade, were mixed together instead of sitting by class. They wore paper headbands decorated with colored feathers or turkeys wearing pilgrim hats, or paper headwear resembling a male Pilgrim’s hat or a female Pilgrim’s bonnet.
“I could eat a cow right now,” said one second-grade girl.
Teachers and parents roamed among them, serving the food. They poured gravy where children wanted it, scooping mounds of stuffing.
The food had been prepared Monday. Kindergartners made the applesauce, first-graders made the stuffing and second-graders made the mashed potatoes.
The school district cooked seven turkeys in ovens at the middle school cafeteria.
The feast began in 1973 because the teachers at the time wanted to have a meal for children from families too poor to have a turkey dinner or eat on china with silverware, said retired teacher Ellen Prusinowski.
“The second-graders were taught how to set the tables,” she said. “Teachers cooked the turkeys.”
The children at one table waited until they all had food before they ate.
Principal Audrey Ryan said she did not think the teachers told them to do that.
The children varied in how they approached passing food.
One girl took a whole butter patty and made a butter sandwich with her roll. The girl next to her took a small piece of butter with her knife and put it on the edge of her plate.
Around the girls, children attacked their food with gusto and talked.
The school has 87 pupils.
Among the kitchen workers was Superintendent of Schools Sandra Sherwood. Assistant Superintendent Ted Walsh helped to serve the food.

 

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