The students in Linda Rinaldo's Southwestern Middle School Alternative Learning Program learned what it is like to prepare and entertain a Thanksgiving dinner for 30 invited guests. The preparation began two weeks before the actual event, which took place Nov. 19, right before the Thanksgiving break.
First, the students created invitations in which each student invited a staff or faculty member to be their guest at the feast. The students then compiled a grocery list that included all the items they would need to prepare and decorate their classroom for the event.
Next, the class took a trip to the grocery store to do the grand task of shopping. The students then came to Ms. Rinaldo's house the day before the feast to make and prepare the food for the holiday meal. All the food was made from scratch; hors d'oeuvres, relish trays, vegetable dishes, breads, rolls, turkey, stuffing and of course the traditional pies. The students' families also contributed to the feast by preparing their favorite family holiday food.
The day of the feast, the students transformed the classroom by elegantly decorating and setting the Thanksgiving tables for their guests. When the students' guests arrived, they were welcomed, served, ate together and shared conversation. The atmosphere in the room was certainly different because the students had an opportunity to be with their invited guests on an entirely different level from the formal classroom setting.
This was the 12th annual Thanksgiving feast that Ms. Rinaldo's Middle School ALP students have prepared. Ms. Rinaldo said, "It is a wonderful experience for the students to plan and prepare the Thanksgiving feast. The students learn a variety of life skills from comparison shopping to proper social etiquette. The entire event is a very positive experience. Everyone involved has an enjoyable time, is hopefully 'stuffed' and will have shared a memorable holiday experience."