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As newcomers to U.S., students treated to first Thanksgiving event

December 2, 2019


Rutherford County Schools


Newcomers to Smyrna, Blackman, Stewarts Creek and LaVergne high schools gathered for a day of bowling, laser tag and a Thanksgiving meal for 135 students, who have only lived in the United States for less than a year.


For many participating students, this was the first time they had either bowled or played laser tag.


We were excited to have LHS join us this year,” said Colin Olson, an English second language teacher at Smyrna. “We began the morning at Stars n Strikes.


“Afterwards, the students had their first Thanksgiving lunch all prepared by Chef Villalobos and his culinary arts students. We are very grateful to LifePoint Church and Coach (Justin) Morton, who donated and coordinated the space for the lunch and to (Carrie) Ott and her interior design students who spent the day decorating the banquet hall.”


Smyrna High counselors (Kati) Dickerson, (Gregg) Raffo, (Kendall) Knox and (Jennifer) Maass helped serve the food to the students and a special thanks to our impromptu DJs Giselle Mora-Torres and Pedro Rojas.


“We hope that we continue this tradition in the future,” Olson said, “and we thank (principals) Dr. (Sherri) Southerland, (Dirk) Ash, Dr. (Leisa) Justus and Dr. (Clark) Harrel for their support.


“While the students were eating lunch, (Dimas) Espinoza from Stewarts Creek High School came on the microphone and explained in Spanish that in American culture, Thanksgiving is not just about eating turkey, but about recognizing and giving thanks.”


Olson said the following people made the trip possible:


Lori Foutch

Robert Drake

Emily Reeves

Christina Fongnaly

Rachel Saliba

Olivia McFee

Yarenny Gardunio

Lia Beachboard

Anoulum Phimphivong

Bryan Mendoza

Brenda Sibrel

Chase Dedmon

Sara Buchanan

Brian Grogan

Carrie Ott

Litzy Arzate

Macy Carlton

Mackenzie Collins

Chloe Eza

Giselle Mora-Torres

Hailey Morgan

Pedro Rojas

Kimberly Salinas

Maritza Sanchez

Taylor Smith

Alberto Villalobos

Kelsey Rea

Rosa Williams

Dennis Magana

Charles Brewer

Kyle Manivong

Sherri Southerland

Kati Dickerson

Kendall Knox

Gregg Raffo

Jennifer Maass

Monica Carr

Danita Wrenn

Justin Morton

Evelyn Heckman

Caitlyn Osborn-Parris

Lauren McCoy

Terra Carter

Christy Staggs

Dimas Espinoza

Elina Salazar

Jessica Carey