A gathering to give thanks

Soroco High School honors its community's senior citizens

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— Jim Pitzer returned to familiar surroundings Thursday for the first time in seven years.

Pitzer, who taught speech and English for seven years at Soroco High School before retiring almost 20 years ago, shared a Thanksgiving meal at the high school with other senior citizens.

Soroco high school students served them the traditional fare of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, rolls and ice cream, in keeping with the high school's practice of reaching out to the community's older residents during the holidays.

Pitzer, 71, echoed the sentiment of many in the group who said they enjoyed the chance to see where the young people in the community attended school.

The recent construction has altered the outward appearance of the Oak Creek campus, but the more things change the more they stay the same, he added.

"I never had an excuse to come here recently until this," Pitzer said. "As much as it has changed, it really hasn't changed all that much."

This was Pitzer's first time at the annual lunch, but South Routt's older residents have come together for at least 14 years for fellowship and food at the high school, Soroco High School Principal Dick Coleman said.

"It's a little gesture of gratitude to the senior citizens of South Routt," Coleman said. "We invite them all to take part in the meal and the entertainment."

Student council representatives bussed tables and cleaned up after the meal.

Sierra Montoya, a senior council representative, said she and her classmates wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to serve older residents in the community.

"This is our way of saying thanks," Montoya said. "It's a tradition that the school has always done to thank the senior citizens."

Thursday's meal offered Jack Means, a sophomore council representative, the chance to meet some former Soroco High School students and staff.

"It's neat that some of them used to go to school here and work here," he said.

Verna Whaley, 74, once cooked and served food to students in the former junior high building.

She retired from her position in 1972 but admitted she enjoys the irony of being served by the age group she once served.

The reversal of roles provides a nice treat every year for Whaley and her husband, Blaine, she said.

"It's funny that they're the ones doing it," Whaley said. "But it's so nice of them to do it for us."

Many people who frequent the senior citizen center in Oak Creek came for the Thanksgiving meal at the high school.

Maxine Stefano, 74, and her husband, Rocco, 77, said they make a point to mark their calendars for the chance to sit with friends, eat a hearty meal and talk with students.

"We come here every year," Maxine Stefano said.

She said she was touched by the high school's efforts year after year to show senior citizens how much they were appreciated.

"It means so much to us," she said.

After the meal, the high school band and choir treated their older guests to a private concert.

The band's last piece, "Military Salute," prompted some of its silver-haired audience members tapping their toes to familiar tunes.

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