FRES’ final feast

LYNDEBOROUGH – On Tuesday, Nov. 25, they gathered in the Central School activity room for their last Thanksgiving feast. Held every year for at least the past 30, this year was the last one. Next year, all the students except kindergarten will attend the new Wilton Elementary School.

Town officials, emergency service people, and past staff members were invited to come and many did, including the town office staff, Police Chief Rance Deware and Ambulance Director Gary Zirpolo. Former Principal Sue Tussing and long-time special services director Jaqui Cottle also attended.

Each guest was asked to sign a “feather” and write what he or she was thankful for. The feathers became the tail of “Tom Turkey,” a big colorful bird made by the third graders and decorating the wall.

The meal was traditional: Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and cranberry sauce, ending with a choice to white or chocolate cake. The meal was prepared by Food Services Director Donna Garnham and her crew, assisted by members of the school’s PTA.

Guests were welcomed by Principal Tim O’Connell. Four fifth-graders, Joseph Depont, Kaeden Dupont, Jackie Hayden and Jack Snow, read a Thanksgiving poem.

After the meal, third-grade teacher Linda Buttrick recalled the earliest feasts when everything but the turkey was done by students in their classrooms.

“A couple of parents did the turkeys. We used old fashioned recipes,” she said. “My class made the corn bread. It was really nice and moist.”

Other classes made the cranberry sauce, mixed the stuffing, peeled and mashed the potatoes. One class churned the butter.

She recalled that the school then had only four rooms, the largest divided by an “accordion pleated curtain” which could be opened for an assembly “Í was the last of the double class teachers,” she recalled. “I had fourth and fifth.”

Changes in federal foodservice rules ended the student participation in the preparation of the meal many years ago. The new rules cited safety.

O’Connell called the event “another great turn-out. It’s a great annual event with the community taking part.”

While it is sad that this was the last one, he said, “we can continue it when the schools are combined.”

He extended thanks to those who had prepared the meal and to the PTA members who helped serve.

“Fun was had by all,” he said.