November 23, 2011 in City

Culinary students prepare friendly feast for 300

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson photoBuy this photo

Je’Don Vaughn eyes the pie as he works his way through a Thanksgiving feast cooked up by culinary program students at Spokane Skills Center on Tuesday. The students prepared and served a meal for students, staff and family of the Skills Center and On-Track Academy.
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Not only did Spokane teen Christian Conlon feel lucky to enjoy a traditionally cooked Thanksgiving meal at the Spokane Skills Center, he helped prepare the festive banquet.

”Everybody keeps telling me thank you,” Conlon said. “It’s gratifying.”

The Thanksgiving feast prepared for the students enrolled in the On-Track Academy – a credit retrieval program – has become a tradition at the school. This is the third year.

For some, it’s the only holiday experience they’ll enjoy.

“It’s like saying we’re a family,” Je’Don Vaughn, 17, said. “But instead of a bunch of problems, we all get along. It’s not like a normal school.”

On Tuesday, the culinary students cooked enough food for 300 people, which was served in two seatings. The tables were decorated in festive fall colors with gifts for every student – gloves, candy and baked goods.

“Most of them have places to land, but this is about community,” Lesa Renner, a counselor, said when explaining why the school puts on the event.

The students, a few family members and school employees sat together at tables set up in two large rooms next to the professional kitchen. The smell of turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy and green bean casserole wafted through the air.

About 100 culinary students – some of them, like Conlon, are also in the On-Track program – had spent the last three days preparing the feast. The man who runs the kitchen, chef Nathan Child, said it went great. “We love to cook for anyone.”

Said 17-year-old Isaiah Thoeny, who was on his third helping, “It’s just good food.”

After every one gobbled down the main course, culinary students carried around trays and offered pieces of pie.

A group of On-Track Academy girls who sat together enjoying the food and each other’s company said they appreciated the Thanksgiving feast gesture.

“It’s thoughtful of them,” said Makayla Olson. Added classmate Alex Taylor: “It’s really nice for the people who don’t get Thanksgiving.”

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