NORTH FORSYTH — Students may be off this week, but one northeastern Forsyth County school was full of teachers and students Wednesday.
That afternoon, Chestatee Elementary held its annual holiday meal for the community. Fifth-grade teacher Craig Ahrens began the event a few years ago as a way to build connections
“It started with about 12 people, and each year it kind of doubled in size,” Ahrens said. “So last year we had about 50 people, which was really good. We had about 150 people who said they were coming this year.”
Ahrens said he had done a similar event at a previous school where he taught, and wanted to continue it at Chestatee.
“I presented it to [Principal] Polly [Tennies] and she said absolutely,” he said. “I mean, it was a no brainer. And the fact that teachers give up time off of their free time is a big deal, because everybody’s here because they want to be.”
Along with preparing the food, some teachers delivered meals to families who couldn’t make it out.
“This is just a way for us as a school and a community to give back, and to let our families know that we’re here, we love, we support them,” Ahrens said.
Like the labor, all of the food had also been donated.
“We don’t pay for anything,” Ahrens said. “People in the community cook stuff, teachers cook stuff. This year I think we made 21 turkeys, which is a fair amount.”
Tennies noted that a lot of hands went in to the preparations, and she was proud of the teachers who took part.
“Let’s be real here, it is vacation,” she said. “A lot of these people have worked themselves crazy up to this time, and yet … they’re in here serving plates and getting ready to make home visits to families.”
Elise Tabor, a special education teacher at Chestatee, was busy serving up helpings of mashed potatoes.
“I love it … it’s fantastic,” Tabor said. “It gives a chance for the community to come in and a chance to outreach to those that can’t come and show our love and our support to our students at Chestatee.”