Friday, October 3, 2003
Behind the scenes at the Sixth-Grade Spaghetti Supper
If you haven't had a knock on your door or received a phone call from that sixth grader down the block selling tickets for the Sixth-Grade Spaghetti Supper on October 7, don't worry. Tickets are on sale at Daisy's Market (checks only), at the transfer station on October 4, and at the door of the Corey Building on Tuesday evening, October 7, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Co-chairs for the 2003 supper, Susan Mills, Marcy Guttadauro, and Annie Halvorsen, expect 1,600 meals to be served this year. This is not their first time being involved in a Spaghetti Supper. All three took part three years ago, when their older children were in the sixth grade. In fact, these women have been working together on various volunteer activities ever since they first met when their children were at the Red Balloon Nursery School. "Two-thirds of the class [of 96 students] have parents who have been through this before," said Mills. "Among the three of us, we knew a good cross-section of the parents."
When I sat down to talk with the co-chairs about the event last week, here is what I learned. The kids sell the tickets and serve as waiters and waitresses. Guttadauro sees this as a rite of passage. "It's their turn, but it's hard to believe that these are the same kids we knew at the Red Balloon. Time goes by so fast." The parents serve on various committees, explained Mills. There is the bread/cheese/silverware committee, the beverage committee, the clean-up committee, kitchen committee, publicity committee, raffle committee, sauce committee just to name a few. All sixth-grade parents are expected to sign up for one of the twelve committees and participate.
"We rely on donations to run this operation," said Mills. "Year after year there has been the Piantedosi bread, the Welch juices, Pastene's sauce, cheese and spaghetti, and more recently, coffee donated by Starbucks." With stricter regulations from the Board of Health, all cooking will be done in the school kitchen by parents under the watchful eyes of the school cooking staff.
Starting Monday evening around 5 p.m., the first shift of parents will arrive at the kitchen and start putting together 60 gallons of sauce. They will brown 50 pounds of hamburger and 20 pounds of onions, and then add, to taste, home-grown oregano from all over town. Cooking and preparations will continue throughout the next day, Tuesday, which is an early-release day when no meals are served in the cafeteria. Everything should be ready when the first customers arrive and are seated at 5 p.m.
Speaking of the school kitchen staff, I have heard nothing but praise. "Those ladies in the kitchen are indispensable," exclaimed Mills. "Those ladies" include Food Service Manager Joyce Lagadinos, long-time certified kitchen staffer Barbara Culkins of Carlisle, and newcomer Zelia Freitas. "It's exciting. Everything is done in the kitchen, all the baking and the cooking," said Culkins. "It's a fun night. When the guys on the spaghetti crew first come in they are nervous, but once they catch on, they have a grand old time," said Lagadinos. All agreed that it was a lot of hard work but a lot of fun. "It's the parents who make the difference. It's a real community night," added Culkins.
The school kitchen staff commented on several aspects of the operation.. They were impressed that the co-chairs had taken the time to approach them in the spring, making sure the Supper got off to a good start in the fall. They talked about the parents and students who work together in the cafeteria, setting up the tables on Tuesday afternoon. Then there are the kitchen crews-the first who begin in earnest late Monday afternoon.
Storing spaghetti sauce
After the evening crew has completed the spaghetti sauce, they will store it in five-gallon drums overnight, ready for the next crew that comes in Tuesday afternoon. That group will heat it up and have it ready to be served to the first customers at 5 p.m.
Culkins has noticed that less and less sugar is being used in the sauce over the years. She recalls one group that used grated carrots as sweetener. As for the spices used in the sauce, Culkins laughed and said, "You have to be careful with those Italians in the kitchen. They have some pretty strong opinions about how much basil and oregano should be used. The Spaghetti Supper is different every year and that's what makes it interesting," she continued. "It's not strictly the mothers anymore. Fathers are definitely involved."
Others mentioned for their contributions to making this a successful evening are Dave Flannery and Leslie Morgan. Flannery, who is Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds at the school, did the dining room table layout in the cafeteria, with public safety codes in mind. Morgan is in charge of the raffle- for the third time. She instructs the students how to sell raffle tickets and how to solicit items to be donated to the raffle. The biggest raffle prizes that have been donated will be raffled separately in the Golden Raffle whose prizes include among others, a Razor Punk 360 Mini Stunt Bike and several weekend getaways to Vermont, Maine and other sites.
Everyone agrees, this is a great social event for everyone townspeople, teachers, administrators, families, students, and even small kids who can play in the plaza and the playground.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito