As with many families, traditions are a meaningful part of the holiday season. It is especially true for the students at Heber Hunt Elementary who are in preparation for their annual Thanksgiving Feast.

What began 12 years ago with Smith-Cotton High School Principal Wade Norton has continued to grow at Heber Hunt. This year nearly 550 students and invited guests are expected to join together in a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 26

“I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Thanksgiving Feast since Mr. Norton (then principal at Heber Hunt) began the tradition in 2007,” Media Specialist Amy Woolery said. “I think it’s important that our staff and students get to sit down as a family to enjoy the meal.

“Each year as I look across the room at our school family dressed in the various colors of service learning shirts I get goosebumps,” she continued. “For a moment, the issues that are weighing on the minds of students and staff are able to be forgotten. It’s such a special tradition that I hope will continue for many years to come.”

According to Heber Hunt Principal Brett Hieronymus, everyone takes part in helping to make the day memorable.

“The incredible team of food service workers here at Heber Hunt with the help of Rowena Nickel (food service director) prepare the food,” Hieronymus explained. “Amanda Jackson (school counselor) and Margie Meyer (administrative assistant) are both crucial factors in making this whole event take shape and happen. It would not be possible without the entire staff pitching in and making this an important event for our building and kids – we truly are blessed.”

Each grade from kindergarten to fourth grade has a task to help with the feast, from making the placemats, leading the “Pledge of Allegiance,” making the invitations, making the table decorations, and rolling the utensils for the guests.

“The feast is important because it teaches our students that they are a part of a family, our school family,” kindergarten teacher Sherry Melby said. “The feast displays that every person matters and that we all work together to create something great.

“It teaches teamwork, sharing, work ethic and compassion for others,” she continued. “It demonstrates pride in being part of this school and our community – it is the sense of accomplishment in creating something for others instead of ourselves.”

The gratitude is felt among the students and staff, according to interventionist aide Kathy Burnett.

“…the sense of sitting down as a Heber Hunt family sharing that time with the kids at the table is important to me,” Burnett said. “I truly feel thankful when I’m there at that moment for each child and adult I’m there with.”

Hieronymus, who is in his second year as principal at Heber Hunt, agrees.

“In my time here I really didn’t know what to expect my first year,” he reflected. “I have come to embrace what the whole intent of the Feast was – to instill the emotion of belonging within our school culture and thankfulness. It is indeed a special event, one that I hope Mr. Norton and our district is proud of.”

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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