RACINE — Wadewitz Elementary School staff were lined up Thursday, utensils in hand, to heap the plates of students and families with turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes.
The school has hosted a Thanksgiving Feast annually for more than 25 years, and this year was no exception.
About 150 people attended this year’s feast, with the crowd made up of staff, students from five of the school’s special education classrooms and their families.
“You think about what the holidays are for and it’s to reflect on what’s important,” said Wadewitz Directing Principal Lee Waechter. “It’s just really great to see everybody in the same room, sharing a meal that our students helped prepare.”
Jon Reuwer attended the dinner with his nephew, 10-year-old Phoenix Reuwer, a fourth-grade student at Wadewitz.
“I really enjoy being able to be at a family event with him, and make him feel loved and supported by his family,” Jon Reuwer said.
Phoenix Reuwer said he thought it was “good” that his uncle came to Thanksgiving with him, but said his favorite part was eating the food, especially his favorite, macaroni and cheese.
Participating in the preparations
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Heather Eisenman’s special education class did some of the shopping for the meal, and each of the five classes that participated cooked a dish to serve. Eisenman’s class made the pies and other classes prepared dishes like cranberry sauce and green bean casserole.
“Definitely it’s a life-skills opportunity,” Eisenman said. “Because they’re learning how to prepare things, follow a recipe, buy things with money, go grocery shopping.”
Funding for the feast came from donations and payments from the families who attended.
Eisenman said that seeing all the families together at the feast made her feel grateful for the school and her job there.
“I have my kids sometimes for five years, so they are my family,” she said.
Erika Macemon’s son Lorenzo recently began attending 4K at Wadewitz, so it was her family’s first time at the dinner. Macemon said it was the largest family involvement activity they had ever attended.
“This is pretty cool,” Macemon said.
When Eisenman began teaching at Wadewitz 21 years ago, the feast was hosted in a classroom with a handful of tables. It’s grown steadily since then.
“I’m so grateful,” Eisenman said.
“I have my kids sometimes for five years, so they are my family.” Heather Eisenman, Wadewitz special education teacher
“I have my kids sometimes for five years, so they are my family."
Heather Eisenman, Wadewitz special education teacher