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Schools give back with community dinner



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Among the many WRSD employees who assisted with the free community dinner at Winnisquam High School last Friday night were (right to left) Superintendent Dr. Tammy Davis, her husband Kevin, and Middle School principal Dr. Pamela Miller. More than 300 people turned out for the special event. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
December 22, 2010
TILTON — The spirit of the holidays and a strong sense of community was alive and well in Tilton last Friday night when the administration, faculty, staff and even some students from the Winnisquam Regional School District began what they hope will grow into a new tradition: a free community dinner.

More than 300 people turned out for the inaugural dinner, from families with young children to older couples and senior citizens from Tilton, Northfield and Sanbornton. As they dined on chicken marsala, macaroni and cheese, clam chowder and a host of side dishes and desserts, diners were treated to a live performance by Emily Lowrey, Steven Hanser and Velia Jenerico, three members of the high school's select choir.

Later a video of the 2009 Christmas Concert, school activities and a slide show of the faces, places and events that make Winnisquam Regional School District a special learning environment was shown on a large screen in the high school cafetorium to entertain the crowd.

"We had our Christmas concert last night, but next year we may incorporate the concert with the dinner so people can enjoy both in the same night," said high school music director Kirk Young.

Lines for the meal stretched out the door for much of the evening as people gathered for a unique dining experience. Behind the counter superintendent Dr. Tammy Davis and Principals Dr. Pamela Miller, Richard Hines and Dr. Ronna Cadarette were among the many teachers and administrators who were kept busy greeting everyone and serving the meal. Hines said he enjoyed seeing many students who had passed through Southwick School.

"It's great seeing all these familiar faces again," he said as he dished out salad.

Davis said the mastermind behind the event was Director of Food Services Jonathan Dupuis.

"At a meeting Jonathan suggested we do a community dinner, and everyone agreed it was a great idea. We told him to make up some signs and make it happen, and he did," she said.

Dupuis said the many food vendors who do business with the district were happy to make donations to the meal. With the menu set and the food secured, he decided to reach out to the schools for further assistance, including even the youngest of the children.

"I dropped off boxes of placemats and the students at Union Sanborn, Southwick and Sanbornton Central schools all decorated them for the tables. I thought it was something fun they could do, and they did a great job helping us out," said Dupuis.

Cooking classes at both the middle and high school got involved by baking blueberry pies and cookies for dessert. The students of the Agricultural Center provided poinsettias as decorations and still others volunteered their time to help with serving and clean-up.

Residents from all three communities enjoyed visiting with both old and new friends as they waited in line, many pairing up to share tables and conversation through the night. The room was packed all through the night and turned over many times as people came and went.

Union Sanborn student Nathan, his sister, brother and dad were happy to get out for a meal together in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle. Nathan was one of the students who decorated several placemats and he kept an eye out for some of his artwork while they ate. His dad, Jeff Bouchard, said he heard about the dinner through his children and was glad they could attend.

"I said, 'Where do we buy the tickets?' when they told me about it and couldn't believe it was free," he said.

All four agreed the food was delicious and hoped it would become an annual event for their family.

Davis said the night was just another piece in their district wide motto, "We're all in this together and we're on the move." Reaching out through programs and events to include citizens of all three towns with educational sharing opportunities and community service has been a top priority of the administration, faculty and staff. They hope to teach the importance of community involvement to their students as they lead through example.

"This all goes along with our desire to give back to the community and thank everyone for their support. Tonight is just the first of many years for this dinner I hope, and we're very pleased about how many people came out to join us," said Davis.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
Summit
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