It was an hour before school started on Nov. 19 and the kitchens in the culinary arts lab at Osceola Creek Middle School were already filled with student cooks preparing a Thanksgiving feast that would be served to the faculty and staff the next day.
Each of the six kitchens hosted a team of culinary students and one turkey. Squeals of disgust accompanied the traditional preparation when the giblets and organs were removed and turkey skin was lifted for butter. “I couldn’t find the giblet pack,” seventh-grader Mika Estok said. “I almost had my head inside the turkey looking for it.”
Each step involved instruction as culinary teacher Leann Davis moved from kitchen to kitchen to direct and demonstrate. Seventh-grader Samantha Fitzgerald described Davis trying to put a big casserole into a small oven. “It wouldn’t fit, so she sort of pushed up the sides,” Fitzgerald said.
The work continued throughout the day. After all, students had to master the art of potato peeling and mashing, casserole mixing, stuffing making and pie baking. Seventh-grader Kennedy Driscoll explained that the sixth-graders weren’t very talented with the potato peelers.
With the assistance of teacher and parent volunteers, the students completed their first big meal of the year. “I was there from 7:20 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the afternoon, so I was beat, (like an egg) but it was a fun learning experience,” seventh-grader Karie Abel said.
“It was a school-wide effort, from the PE and ESE classes who dried dishtowels when the kitchen dryer blew, to the nurse and cafeteria staff that provided gloves and hairnets for the cooks, to the teachers who helped demonstrate turkey preparation,” Davis said.
“I was crossing the courtyard with clean, folded, dry towels and it started raining,” towel-folding expert Macy Radziul said. “It wasn’t a drizzle, it was a real downpour. I ran back to the girls’ locker room to dry them again.”
The teamwork paid off when the students hosted dinner for the entire faculty and staff on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Everyone agreed that the best part of the entire day was being allowed to eat the leftovers.
ABOVE: Culinary arts teacher Leann Davis takes the first turkey out.