Students, parents, faculty and staff gathered Monday at Elkhorn Elementary School to share a Thanksgiving dinner planned and provided by the school’s teachers.

“Some teachers said they found an opportunity to get the Elkhorn family around the table together and share a nice Thanksgiving meal,” said Matt Osborne, the school’s principal.

Teacher Emily Granath, a co-chair of the school’s outreach committee, said she loves Thanksgiving and has been toying with the idea of the families and staff sharing a holiday dinner for a couple of years.

“It originally started with wanting to have a big Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I just love the family coming around, sharing a meal and celebrating what you’re thankful for. I look at Elkhorn as a big giant family. So, just wanting to celebrate the holiday with our school family is my idea for it.”

The idea became a reality this year because Elkhorn has a new community outreach committee, and Garnath believed a holiday dinner was a good outreach event, she said. While she was hoping the event would be a success, she had no idea exactly how well it would be received. Osborne said 485 people RSVP’d for the event. To prepare for those many people the partition separating the gymnasium and cafeteria was removed.

Only a few people sat in the gymnasium. Most people gathered in the cafeteria, which was packed with people, to eat. Some people ate and left while others mingled with other families and teachers, who were serving drinks and desserts.

The teachers of Elkhorn Elementary not only planned the event but also provided funding and food for the dinner, Garnath said. Cooking was the only thing not handled by teachers. The food preparation is being handled by the mother of Elkhorn teacher Kayla Fallis, whose mother, Paula Fallis, works at Family Affair Restaurant and Catering in Salvisa.

Fallis said 24 full turkeys were prepared along with corn, mashed potatoes and green beans.

“I know my mom got to the restaurant this morning at 4 a.m. and they’ve been there all day,” she said Monday. “And they were there yesterday also. They worked on the turkeys yesterday and the sides today.”

So many people were expected to stop in and eat that three serving stations were set up and serving times were staggered.

During the meal, children and their families wrote what they were thankful for on a large piece of rolled construction paper. Most children wrote they were thankful for their families, pets and homes. Though, one child wrote they were thankful for the battle royale genre video games Fortnite.

“We’re kind of blown away by the overwhelming response,” Osborne said. “I think families are excited about it and kids have been talking about it. I think it will become an Elkhorn tradition.”

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