Students share Thanksgiving dinner with 270 guests
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to show gratitude; the Peer Help class at Storm Lake High School hit that right on the head with their annual dinner which they prepared and served to 270 senior students, school staff members, veterans, law enforcement officers and fire fighters.
The annual event has been going on for 19 years, created by Jim Nichols, social studies teacher.
Initially, he said, the purpose was to show the ESL students what a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner looks like. The first meal consisted of two turkeys plus the trimmings including pumpkin pie and was served to 14 kids.
Over the years, the dinner has grown.
On Tuesday the Peer Help class of 24 had a feast prepared for their guests. There were eight large turkeys, three bone-in hams plus 30 pounds of additional ham, 100 tamales and enchiladas, 43 pies and 70 pounds of mashed potatoes (with gravy). Nichols and his hunting friends also provided 60 ducks, 30 geese and 20 pheasants.
All of the students contributed to the dinner and the district provided the hams and turkeys for the project that was a grand learning experience for all of them.
"There is a ton of social skills taught from this experience," Nichols said. "They learn collaboration and community service. It is a great thing and also teaches some of the students to trade places with their classmates that don't have as much as them. I think that is important. I'm blessed. These are all great kids."
In addition to contributing food, many of the 24 students came to school early to help in the preparation, excited to be able to shows their appreciation.
Nichols also thanks the school cooks, Becky Stille of the family and consumer science teacher for helping and to the administration for allowing the students to have this unique learning experience.