Wednesday, November 14, 2007


If I had to go back to high school, I would take a foods class. I never really took any electives in high school--or at least any that weren't college prep. or intended to beef up my transcript. Additional foreign language, literature and science classes just don't seem comparable to a foods class.

This morning, fist period, I had FCA, Foreign Culinary Arts, a mixed-gender group of juniors and seniors. The students were scheduled to put on a feast today, the cumlination of their unit on Chinese food, and the teacher entrusted me to oversee it.

They prepared hot and sour soup, a spicy chicken and zucchini dish, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, steamed pork & veggie dumplings, fried won tons and egg roll, with two different dipping sauces on the side. For dessert, there was a lovely strawberry sorbet with watermelon balls and homemade fortune cookies with hand-written fortunes inside. The beverage was green tea, of course.

But even more than just the incredible smells and tastes, I so enjoyed the students themselves and their manner. They came in, washed up, donned aprons and got to work. Some were assigned to prepare food, while others set the tables. When everything was ready, the food had been served onto the plates and the tea was poured, they all sat down at the four round dinner tables with their assigned small groups. It was beautiful.

I was invited to sit with them and join them to eat, but before I sat, I just stood and admired them all for a moment, complimenting them on the orderly and efficient way they had put this amazing meal together. They were as hungry for the praise as they were for the steaming food before them and they looked up at me with shining faces. They were beautiful.

And then it happened.

I found myself blurting out the words before I could entirely process whether or not it was wise.

"You guys, would I be kicked out of the school...would anyone here be terribly offended...would it be ok with you if I said grace, like this is a real family meal, like this is our Thanksgiving dinner together?"

Several students beamed.

"Yeah! That would be cool! It would be our Thanksgiving, just for us!"

Oh! I'd be soooo offended--just kidding."

The class seemed to come to an easy consensus.

I could say grace.

They all respectfully bowed their heads. Some even folded their hands and closed their eyes.

"Oh, God! Thank-you so much for this wonderful group of students. Thank-you for the food that you have provided and they have prepared. I pray that you would use it to strengthen us as we go through the day. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

"Amen," echoed the reply throughout the room.

"That was so cool."

"Yeah, it's like we are a family."

"Let's eat!"

Oh! We enjoyed our meal together.

When we'd eaten our fill, I stepped away and watched the students get to work on the clean-up. The four kitchen areas were spotless, floors swept, linens put into the washing machine and dishes washed, dried and put away within twenty minutes. Leftovers were divided up onto paper plates, covered with plastic wrap, and delivered to favorite teachers and hungry boyfriends.

And class was over.

I loved every minute of it.


Jeannie said...

Wow! Sounds wonderful!
I'm so awed by your quick instinct to pray, and your courage to do so in a public school!
Good for you! May God bless your witness!

Mister Ed T said...

Amen! Awesome Sherry. BTW
what did your fortune cookie say.