Thomas Breault and other students volunteering at the Paris District High School’s annual intergenerational holiday dinner enjoyed great conversations with guests.

Intergenerational Holiday Dinner Celebrates Community at Paris District High School

“We’re the generation of the internet and have information available to us instantly, but it’s incredibly important to listen to and learn from the wisdom older generations can share with us,” says Thomas Breault Grade 12 student at Paris District High School. “Sharing a meal together is the perfect vehicle for those conversations.”

Right: Students, staff, and volunteers including the Brant County OPP were on hand to ensure the festive feast was a success.

Breault is one of 14 members of the school’s student council, which has been planning Paris District High School’s annual intergenerational holiday dinner since late September. Invitations were distributed to area retirement communities inviting residents to enjoy an evening of good company, music, food, and a surprise appearance by a special guest or two. Most importantly, however, the chance to sit down and share a meal meant sharing in a sense of community that spans the generations.

“This is a great event that kicks off the holiday season for us, and it’s a honour to serve the community in this way,” said Brant County Ontario Provincial Police Constable Ken Johnston, who was taking the OPP’s role of serving and protecting quite literally as he volunteered his time. Johnston, along with a half a dozen colleagues in uniform, personally delivered the piping hot turkey dinners to each table, in addition to ensuring residents made it into and out of the building safely. “This dinner is a lot of effort on the part of the school’s staff and students, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Right: Volunteers served traditional turkey dinners to the guests.

As the meal got underway, the cafeteria at Paris District filled with the sounds of animated conversations and laughter.

“The older I get, the more outrageous I get,” said Cheryl, one of the residents who enjoying the annual tradition for the second year in a row. “It’s not that you stop caring, it’s just that you stop being so self-conscious!”

She shared the occasion with her co-residents and Paris District student Amy Hutchinson, who joined in a lively discussion about the history and evolution of the town they share.

The holiday music was paused when Santa and Mrs. Claus made a surprise appearance. As the duo made their way through the room, wishing everyone a happy holiday, things took a turn when none other than the Grinch appeared at the doorway. A chase ensued, and the Grinch was eventually banished from the shindig, much to the delight of diners winding down their meals.

Community is integral to Grand Erie Multi-Year Plan, and events such as the holiday dinner define the crucial role the wider community plays in enhancing the learning experiences of students.

“We think of the holidays as a busy time with family and friends, but it can also be a very lonely time of year for many,” points out Breault. “The connections you can make during a meal are truly valuable, and it’s special for us as students to be a part of it.”

Photos by Grand Erie Communications

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