By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – If the Westborough High School community thought that perhaps they had the calendars mixed up and Thanksgiving was actually Nov. 16 this year, instead of Nov. 22, they could certainly be forgiven. On the 16th, the delicious aroma of turkey, vegetable dishes and pies was wafting through the air, courtesy of the Life Skills class.
Each of the students in the Life Skills class has a different learning issue; the class is designed to teach basic skills so the participants can secure employment and live independently. As part of that initiative, they learn simple kitchen tasks including food preparation.
The five boys – Henry Chi, Justice Dikenga, Jimmy Rogers, Shard Sharma and Ethan Turner – had been busy researching and shopping prior to actually preparing the meal.
The students also worked with Bruce Tretter, a Westborough resident, School Committee member, and the CEO and founder of “Gotta Eat, Can's Cook,” a website dedicated to making cooking easier. Tretter helped the students come up with a menu in which everything was made from scratch.
Then with their teacher Anita Breeze and paraprofessionals Carol Maxwell and Janice Jeannotte, the students went shopping at the Stop & Shop on Otis Street. (Shard is also employed part-time at the store.) Both Stop & Shop and Roche Bros. donated a $100 gift card to the class.
“We use a lot of skills doing the community immersion field trips,” Breeze said. “We do comparative shopping and compare expenses. The kids can see right on the receipts how much we saved.”
Working with Tretter, the students practice skills such as reading and following recipes, measuring items and practicing kitchen safety.
“Bruce is awesome,” Breeze said. “He really helped facilitate things. And he has such a good affinity with the kids.”
On Nov. 16, all that hard work paid off as the Thanksgiving meal garnered high praise from the administrators and teachers who came to the feast.
The students had set the table ahead of time with festive decorations and then took turns serving their guests. They also joined in at the luncheon table and chatted with the adults.
Marianne O”Connor, the district's superintendent, noted that she had enjoyed a previous meal made by the students.
“It's such a pleasure to be invited – I am actually skipping a meeting to be here. I didn's want to miss this one,” she said. “This is such a great project. Bruce does so much for this class – we appreciate his support.”
“It's just great working with the kids,” Tretter said. “We always have fun – that's the most important thing I also try to show them that things don's have to take a lot of work to taste good.”
Jimmy agreed that although the luncheon was “a lot of work,” it was also “a lot of fun.”
“I like to help out and to eat everything!” he added.
Justice said his favorite part – for both cooking and eating – was the turkey.
“The mashed potatoes and stuffing are good too,” he added.
But it was Shard who best summed up what everyone in attendance agreed upon.
“It's all good,” he said. “Everything is good!”