Four years ago (2003-2004), Mount Everett students and staff launched our first senior citizen holiday concert/luncheon. The event has grown significantly over the years, and our students and community members look forward to it every year.
The event is multi-disciplinary. It involves the preparation and serving of a scrumptious four-course holiday meal by students in our culinary arts program. Students in our special needs program design and craft centerpieces that are taken home by one lucky guest at each table. Our band and choral students treat our guests to a holiday concert. During the last two years we also chose to recognize special donors/volunteers with awards during this luncheon.
This year, we would like to expand the program by adding the participation of our elementary music students. This is a unique opportunity, as grades PK-12 are located on the same campus. We also plan to intersperse several musical performance groups throughout the dining room during the meal, including the 7-12 concert band, 9-12 chorus, grades 1 & 2 teddy bear parade, and elementary choral groups. In addition to these changes, we will also include students from two of our art foundations classes and our theater department to help decorate and orchestrate the event.
The menu last year included butternut squash soup, salad, roast beef, turkey, ham, potatoes au gratin, rice pilaf, glazed carrots, green beans almandine, and rolls. Students dressed in chef whites manned carving stations, and a dessert buffet followed the main course. Each year the students construct and raffle off gingerbread houses. Invitations are rendered through the local senior center and nursing homes. Last year 125 senior citizens attended our event.
The benefits of this program are many. It provides our culinary arts students with a real-world experience in preparing and serving a multi-course meal. It provides an opportunity for students with various interests, abilities and skills to participate in a common event. It is also an excellent opportunity for our senior citizens to see teenagers behave in a most positive and productive manner. Seniors are escorted from their vehicles by young men and women in suits and dresses, are served a meal of the highest quality and are treated to outstanding musical performances by our award winning band and chorus. All too often, senior citizens hear in the media only about teenagers making mistakes. Many seniors who attend do not have daily contact with our youth. Our holiday gathering affords them the opportunity to see these kids in a different light. Including elementary school children in this year’s concert will make this experience all the more grand.
Ours is a small school in which most of the chefs, musicians, and escorts have grandparents among the invitees. The affirmation that the seniors provide to these young people is extremely important in validating the good choices they are making in their lives. The program has become very important to our community. In fact, the president of the Sheffield Senior Center described the luncheon/concert as "The event of the year!"