CRANBERRY – On Thursday, Nov. 18, Freedom Trail Elementary School and Cranberry Middle School celebrated National Parent Participation Day by inviting their families to enjoy a Thanksgiving-style lunch with their students. After being closed off to visitors for almost two years, the event was a welcomed sight to faculty, staff, parents and students.

“It is so good to see this big of a turnout. We are so grateful to the parents for taking time to join us,” said Freedom Trail Principal Emily Dellinger. “Anytime we can have parents involved, it is a good thing. There is nothing more important in a child’s life than the foundation built by parents and guardians, and we want to support that in any way possible. The more students see a connection between home and school, the more successful they will be.”

Dellinger, as well as Cranberry Middle School Principal Dr. Jamie Johnson and several faculty members, were on hand to greet parents as they arrived.

“It is important to us that all of our families feel welcome in our school and they know what a crucial part they play in their child’s education,” noted Johnson.

Both principals, faculty and staff actively welcomed students and parents while coordinating and navigating each of the school’s grade levels through the halls into the lunchroom and overflowing into the gymnasium.

Director of Child Nutrition Tammie Woodie and her staff were up to the task of providing meals for an event of this size. Approximately 700 Thanksgiving meals were scheduled to be served, thus the cafeteria staff under the supervision of Amy Parlier “went above and beyond to make this a special day for the students and it is greatly appreciated,” Dellinger said.

The long lines started at 10:45 a.m. and continued through the scheduled lunch periods for all grades. The youngest students started first with family members, and meals were served all the way through eighth grade. Some family members had multiple students in different grades and stayed through two, three, and even four Thanksgiving lunches.

Avery County Schools will be closed Nov. 24 to 26 to allow students and staff extra time to spend with their families for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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