All the students at Yale Elementary School learned proper table manners and enjoyed a catered multi-course meal specially prepared by the Woodland Public Schools’ food services during the first annual Fine Dining Event sponsored by Sodexo Dining Services, provider of food services for the district.
In prior years, Laura Perry, head of Nutrition Services for Woodland Public Schools, held the annual Fine Dining Event for a third grade class at Woodland Intermediate School. Following the district’s elementary school reorganization earlier this year, the principals of the three elementary schools asked if she could host a fine dining event at each school. “I’ve really wanted to do the event at each of the district’s schools, so I was excited to have the opportunity this year,” she said. “I decided to start with Yale so I could capture the changing colors of the leaves with a menu featuring hearty colder-weather foods.”
The district's head of Nutrition Services, Laura Perry (left), organizes and manages the event which includes designing the menu, helping prepare the food, assisting with serving, and teaching students before the event.
Yale School is located more than 20 miles from the rest of Woodland Public Schools and enrolls between 40-50 students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade. As a small remote school, its kitchen facilities are also smaller in comparison to the rest of the district, but these challenges were ones Perry was happy to take on. “We had to prepare some of the courses using the high school’s cafeteria and then cook the courses up at Yale,” she said. “My only concern was fitting everything in my car for the trip up, but that wasn’t an issue at all.”
Perry visited in advance to teach students proper table manners, appropriate meal conversation topics, and how to use the variety of silverware that may be in a fine dining establishment. "Many younger students have little to no experience with the different aspects of fine dining,” she explained. "Our annual Fine Dining Event provides a great way for students to learn proper table manners while also having the chance to try delicious food that might be new to them."
Students enjoyed the entire meal, but particularly the Chocolate and Blood Orange Mousse with Whipped Cream served for dessert.
This year’s three-course menu featured an appetizer of Fruit Ambrosia Salad with Seasoned Pumpkin Seeds followed by an entrée of Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Italian Herb Breadsticks. For dessert, students enjoyed Chocolate and Blood Orange Mousse with Whipped Cream.
About Yale Elementary School
Since Yale Elementary School is located more than a half hour’s drive away from Woodland, the school provides a vital service for families living in and around Ariel, Washington. Three teachers and three paraeducators manage the school's five grade levels.
Sharon Stuart, a special education paraeducator, started working at Yale School more than 20 years ago. “I always loved Yale for the quality of the education when my kids attended here, so when a job became available, I applied,” she said. “Yale’s small size lets us focus more on each student no one gets lost.”
Sarah Taylor, the school's second-grade teacher, agrees with Stuart. “Since our school is small, we get to personally know each of our students on a deep level, she said. “The school’s use of multi-grade classrooms encourages kids to interact with different age groups which gives us the opportunity to watch as the older kids make friends and take care of the younger ones both in and out of the classroom.”
Yale’s staff works together to help struggling students with whatever area challenges them. “I love working with kids in small groups,” said Veronica Cortez, who teaches kindergarten and first grade. “I have the opportunity to really get at what the students need to learn and help them with exactly the topics they’re struggling with.”
In addition to staff, area parents and community members volunteer and support the school from helping organize events to helping teachers with different class projects. “Yale School is one of the many ways that makes Woodland Public Schools such a unique district,” said Malinda Huddleston, Yale’s Principal who also serves as the Literacy and Learning Coach at North Fork Elementary School. “We are incredibly grateful to all of our area communities for the ongoing support and dedication to ensure we provide an excellent educational experience for all of the students we teach.”
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