Schools are getting ready to close for Thanksgiving, but not without first celebrating the holiday within its own walls.
Franklin Special School District has organized family lunches at each school for decades, bringing the community together for an early Thanksgiving meal.
Moore Elementary School celebrated Turkey Day on Wednesday, as parents, grandparents, siblings, babysitters — you name it — joined the 534 students during their lunch period. School secretary Linda Zehring said she always expects a great turnout as, in past years, family visitors have more than doubled the building’s normal population.
“We’ve had over 500 parents and grandparents,” she said. “A lot of people bring extended family, and it’s just a really neat experience. The kids love it, and everybody just enjoys Thanksgiving lunch as a family.”
Students and their families not only gathered in the cafeteria to enjoy all the Thanksgiving favorites — turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, turkey-shaped sugar cookies — but the school also set up papier-mâché-adorned tables in the gym to accommodate the large number of relatives excitedly celebrating with their kids.
“It’s a great opportunity for the parents to get to know each other and get to know their kids’ friends,” Zehring said.
Jill Stephens, mother of kindergartener Cole and third-grader Savannah, said she has been to these lunches for the past couple years.
“It’s really special,” she said. “My husband came today, too, so that we could divide up and conquer both (the kindergarten and third-grade lunch).”
Third-grader Alexandra Morris was also excited to have lunch with her mom.
“It’s really fun,” she said, explaining that her stepdad couldn’t make it that day, but they’ve made plans to copy the school’s idea of a Thanksgiving lunch and have a daddy-daughter date later in the week.
The other schools in the district are holding their family lunch on Thursday, one week from the holiday.