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East Side fifth-grade class treats community leaders to pre-holiday feast

  • East Side School fifth-grade teacher Benjie Willsey matches her students with their guests prior to the Thanksgiving feed.

    East Side School fifth-grade teacher Benjie Willsey matches her students with their guests prior to the Thanksgiving feed.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

  • Cole Abney, center, waits in line at the Thanksgiving feed provided by his class and teacher Benjie Willsey Monday.

    Cole Abney, center, waits in line at the Thanksgiving feed provided by his class and teacher Benjie Willsey Monday.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

  • Left, Harrisburg Police Chief David Morris leads the crowd in singing 'Happy Birthday' to Brystil Taber.

    Left, Harrisburg Police Chief David Morris leads the crowd in singing 'Happy Birthday' to Brystil Taber.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

  • Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown is served by volunteer Preston Pitchford, along with teacher Carly Angelly.

    Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown is served by volunteer Preston Pitchford, along with teacher Carly Angelly.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

 
BY TRAVIS DENEAL tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 11/21/2017 5:49 PM

HARRISBURG -- Students in Benjie Willsey's fifth-grade class at East Side School took the opportunity to share Thanksgiving with local community leaders Monday at a specially-prepared lunch.

Each student invited a member of the community and shared a table with his or her guest, which included state Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, state Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown, John A. Logan Men's Basketball Coach Kyle Smithpeters, Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek, Harrisburg Police Chief David Morris, and members of the Harrisburg Unit 3 School Board and Superintendent Mike Gauch among others.

The Harrisburg Register was a guest of Cole Abney, a polite young man who said who said he enjoyed playing baseball, exploring the outdoors and reading the "I Survived" series of books.

"It's a great series of books. I think everyone ought to read them," Abney said.

He also was a model host, bringing his guest a soda and a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert. He also made a Thanksgiving electric candle decoration for a gift.

The Thanksgiving dinner also had an impromptu surprise for Brystil Taber, who revealed to her guest (Chief David Morris) that today was her 10th birthday. Morris asked all in attendance to pause, and he had Taber join him in the middle of the banquet room in the Harris-Pruett Building so the crowd could sing "Happy Birthday."

"I can't believe everybody sang to me," Taber said.

Willsey said this was the 15th year her class has hosted the Thanksgiving dinner, and it has grown since its humble beginnings.

"We used to do it in my classroom, but now we use this building because we have so much more room," she said. "This year, we have 61 people attending, including my students."