LHS transition students host 20th Thanksgiving celebration

LHS transition students host 20th Thanksgiving celebration

Lance Cardillo, 15, of Lincoln, who is in the daily living skills class at LHS, serves turkey to Michael Mayer while teaching assistant Kim Dorocz, right, looks on. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

LINCOLN – Fall-themed handmade placemats sit on top of large circular tables draped with orange tablecloths. A long serving table has hot pans and plates and napkins on top of it, waiting for the bustling of a busy and delicious Thanksgiving meal.

In another room, students put the final touches on the food, get dressed in their Thanksgiving costumes, and prepare for their guests to arrive.

The students, who are in Lincoln’s transition program, are graduates who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The students, ages 18 to 21, learn how to live in the adult world with help from the program, sited at Lincoln High School.

Patricia Kilsey, transition coordinator for the Lincoln School Department, and staff of the transition program help the students in four areas of life after high school: postsecondary education, employment, independent living, and community participation, she said.

“The disabilities can go from severe to mild,” she said. “We all have disabilities in one way or another. They can accomplish anything to the best of their abilities. My job is to help them become productive citizens in a global society through any accommodations or modifications I need to make.”

For the past 20 years, the transition students at LHS have planned, prepared, and hosted a Thanksgiving meal for Lincoln’s school and town officials. This year’s meal took place last Friday, Nov. 17. Guests of the lunch pay $6, which helps pay for the food, said Kilsey.

“The students shop for it, decide what we need, bring it back, prepare the food, set up the room, prepared some artwork, and they serve it,” Kilsey said. “They’ll dress up as chefs, Pilgrims and Indians. The faculty likes it. The students like it. They get a sense of accomplishment from everything, which is great.”

Alumni of the transition program are also invited to the lunch to see past teachers and reunite with friends, Kilsey said. She said she appreciates when previous students come back because it shows her current students a glimpse into life after the transition program.

Students prepared string beans, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash, turkey, salad, pies and brownies for the lunch, Kilsey said. A student in the transition program, Derrick Freeman, said he and the rest of the students worked incredibly hard to prepare for the event.

“We went shopping on Monday, and we have been preparing the food ever since,” he said. “Making the salad was my favorite part.”

Transitional student Bryce Richard, 19, of Lincoln, serves gravy to teacher’s assistant Chrisily Genesse at the annual transitional Thanksgiving dinner at Lincoln High School on Friday. The Thanksgiving feast is in its 20th year, and transition program student alumni are invited back to the high school for the meal and to reunite with former teachers and friends.
Enjoying the Thanksgiving feast are, from left, Carmel Mendosa, of Manville, Kelly Lariviere, of Smithfield, Chrisily Genesse, of Lincoln, and Rose-Marie Durant, of Lincoln.
Transitional student Fiona Adamski, of Lincoln, spoons corn to diners at the transition program Thanksgiving dinner, which has been a 20-year tradition at Lincoln High School. Special education students served faculty and staff a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Lincoln High School Principal Kevin McNamara is served by transitional students Bryce Richard, 19, and Derrick Freeman, 19, both of Lincoln.