School board recognizes CTE students for holiday work

OKEECHOBEE — At their Jan. 15 meeting Okeechobee County School Board recognized students from the Okeechobee High School CTE program who prepared and served a free dinner in the OHS cafeteria during Thanksgiving last year to over 200 people.

Jason and Belinda Anderson stand with CTE students who were recognized for volunteering to help prepare and serve free meals on Thanksgiving of 2018. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

Members involved with the volunteer project were awarded a certificate for their work by Okeechobee superintendent of schools Ken Kenworthy and the school board.

The students recognized for their work in helping set up the event were Tara Hunt, Julian Tinajero, Juan Sanchez, Daniel Parker, Thomas Garcia, Jose Cervantes, Jesus Cedillo, Ivan Gonzalez, Donielle Harper, Joseline Flores, Erica Ruiz and Diana Ruiz.

The school board also recognized the many adults who were instrumental in putting the event together including Jason and Belinda Anderson, Matthew and Jessica McPeak, Justin and Felicia White, Shaun Kogut, Lindsey Waldrop, Roger and Yolanda McPeak, Johnny and Tasha Taylor, Leah Suarez and new school board member Melisa Jahner.

OHS automotive teacher Jason Anderson said the genesis of the idea came after a conversation he had with his wife and students.

“One day I just thought about doing something for the needy for Thanksgiving,” said Mr. Anderson. “Talked to my wife about it and she was on board. We both agreed to open it to the entire community, not only for the less fortunate. Next I spoke to my students to see if I had their support as well and once I knew I had the help needed, we got approval from the school and we were off and running.”

The CTE students got to work by going to local businesses in Okeechobee to seek support for the project while Mr. Anderson reached out to Tobi Cross, a family support worker with Helping People Succeed, to help obtain items for the free dinner.

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen, along with his son Cory Stephen, agreed to help cook the ham and turkey for the group.

In a public Facebook post directly after the event thanked everyone involved in bringing everything together.

“From the bottom of my heart I thank you all,” said Mr. Anderson late Thanksgiving night.

“This is not a one-man show and I could have never pulled this together without you. We learned some things this year and will take those with us for next year. I would love for this to become a tradition in Okeechobee and something people can look forward to every year.”

Mr. Anderson says he and his students plan to bring back the event next year and are thinking of setting up a delivery system to help reach the less fortunate ones without transportation.

The Okeechobee County School Board also recognized the many people outside of the students and school staff who played a crucial role in bringing the project together. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

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