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Woodland's third graders enjoy fine food while learning proper table etiquette

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Third graders at Woodland Intermediate School learned proper table manners and how to use a full set of dining utensils while enjoying a five-course meal during the annual Fine Dining Event sponsored by Sodexo Dining Services who provides food services to Woodland Public Schools.

Third graders Marissa Lindberg, Aidan Summers, Faithe Moran, Ari Asher ate a five-course meal with their table host, WIS Principal Steve Carney.
Third graders Marissa Lindberg, Aidan Summers, Faithe Moran, Ari Asher ate a five-course meal with their table host, WIS Principal Steve Carney. 

Each year, the school's food services staff selects one lucky classroom to participate in the Fine Dining Event based on student behavior in the cafeteria during lunchtime. This year, the staff selected Jennifer Crosby's third grade class to participate based on their exemplary cafeteria behavior.

Lan Ha, Director of Food Services for Woodland, organizes the event. Before the day of the meal, Ha visits the selected classroom and teaches the students proper table manners, appropriate meal conversation topics, how to sit, and how to use the variety of silverware at their placemats. "Many kids have no experience with fancier foods or fine dining," explained Ha. "This event provides a great way for them to learn proper table manners while also trying new foods."

Students learned proper table manners and how to use a variety of silverware.
Students learned proper table manners and how to use a variety of silverware.

High school students taking Culinary Arts with Kimberly Miller helped prepare the food the day before with Sodexo Dining Services staff members from districts around the area including Woodland's own staff putting on the finishing touches and helping serve the food the day of the event. Parents also volunteered to serve as wait staff, dressed in formal attire and wearing serving aprons.

Diners started with a soup course featuring Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Cardamom Cream and Cinnamon Crisps followed by a Pear, Endive, and Cranberry Fruit Salad with Minted Honey Dressing. Crispy Chicken Breast with Italian Cheese and Ham with Pan Roasted Fall Root Vegetables and Potatoes made up the main course with Caramel Apple Cider Dumplings with Maple Cream for dessert.

Students were taught to introduce themselves and learned appropriate table conversation topics to have with their table hosts.
Students were taught to introduce themselves and learned appropriate table conversation topics to have with their table hosts. 

Students politely introduced themselves to their tablemates who included classmates as well as district staff members including Principal Steve Carney, Superintendent Michael Green, and Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley, among others. "It was fun to learn manners in class like how we shouldn't smack our lips or ever throw food," said Faithe Moran, a third grader, whose favorite dish was the Apple Cider Dumplings. "This is the best dessert of my life!" Some students found that having a variety of silverware was a new experience. "It was weird having more than one fork," said Ari Asher, a third grader. "Once you learn to move from the outside to the inside, it's easier."

All of the students were encouraged to try each of the dishes, even if the food wasn't something they normally ate or thought they would like. "My favorite restaurant is Taco Bell so I don't eat a lot of fancy food," explained Aidan Summers, a third grader, who didn't care for the pumpkin soup. "I enjoyed trying the new foods even if I didn't end up liking them."

At the end of the event, Food Services Director Lan Ha (far right) introduced the staff responsible for the meal.
At the end of the event, Food Services Director Lan Ha (far right) introduced the staff responsible for the meal. 

Following dessert, Ha introduced her helpers including a chef from Sodexo Dining Services, the managers from other school districts, and the parent volunteers. She concluded the event by asking students if they tried anything new, if they enjoyed themselves, and by giving a round of applause to the chefs and helpers.

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