Robbinsville – For the Robbinsville High School cafeteria staff, the Thursday before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year.
Not only does the cafeteria serve a Thanksgiving feast to students; it also thanks teachers of days past by hosting the annual Retired Employee Luncheon.
The school has showed this appreciation for retired teachers for as long as anyone can remember.
“We do this every year, and we start a couple of days before,” said Denise Moody, director of the cafeteria. “This year we cooked 36 turkeys; 360 pounds here at the high school and 380 pounds at the elementary.”
The cafeteria puts on a full Thanksgiving spread including turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, green beans, rolls and lemon-blueberry cake.
“We take pride in our food and try to make everything the best that we can every day,” said cafeteria employee Jackie Kron. “Today is special, though. Kids really look forward to it.”
Kron’s claim was proven by the exclamations from students waiting in line.
“Sweet! Real cranberry sauce!,” one student proclaimed.
“Look at the size of those yeast rolls!,” another said with excitement.
And perhaps most tellingly: “This is better than Thanksgiving at home.”
After the students stuffed themselves, around 40 retired teachers dove into the holiday meal at a table specially decorated with a Thanksgiving theme.
“It’s always good to come back and see the people you worked with,” said Rick Davis. Davis worked in the Graham County School system for 33 years, serving as science and math teacher and finally, superintendent. “It’s good for former teachers to come back and reminisce.”
Pam Knott taught family and consumer science for more than 30 years. She recently retired but has yet to make a break the habit of coming to work.
“I’m here to substitute teach today and tomorrow,” Knott said. “I really miss the kids and I just like seeing the teachers again.”
Sara Davis, who taught elementary music in the county for 31 years, summed up the sentiments of her fellow retirees: “It’s a real treat to see the people you worked with and knowing that the school remembers you is a good feeling.”