Senior citizens at school lunch table
Superintendent Bill Seder (dark suit in the center) talked with early arrivals Wednesday at Mount Vernon City Schools’ fall senior citizens luncheon at the high school. Credit: Larry Gibbs

MOUNT VERNON – A generation gap? Not in Mount Vernon.

More than 200 senior citizens joined 44 National Honor Society (NHS) students Wednesday for Mount Vernon City Schools’ annual fall senior citizens luncheon in the high school gym.

The NHS students, all juniors and seniors, earn membership for their academics, leadership and service to community. They welcomed their guests as they entered the high school, then served each of 50 tables heaping bowls of pot roast, roasted red potatoes and mixed vegetables, flanked by coffee, tea or water and apple crisp topped with whipped cream.

The tables were decorated with Thanksgiving placemats created by children at Pleasant Street and Wiggin Street elementary schools.

Their serving duties completed, the NHS members sat at each table with their senior guests, nearly all of them three or four times older than their hosts. Conversation and laughter echoed throughout the gym.

Senior Mateo Pechon-Elkins, NHS president, said the luncheon offered NHS members an opportunity to be involved with the community in a way different from the tutoring and other services they provide.

“Outside of their own grandparents a lot of the kids don’t have this type of experience,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for them to interact with our older citizens.”

Among the guests were Diana Phillips and Cloyd Yough, who have known each other for years. Phillips has five children who have graduated from MVHS. Yough has three children and four grandchildren who are MVHS graduates A fifth grandchild is a sophomore there.

“This luncheon helps keep us informed about what is going on in the district,” Yough said. “We also get to meet some really good students.”

Phillips said the luncheon was the third she and Yough had attended together. There is also a spring luncheon.

Superintendent Bill Seder welcomed the guests before offering grace.

“We are so glad you could join us. This is one of the special times of the year when we share ourselves with you and you with us,” he said.

After lunch the senior citizens moved to the theater, where they heard a district update from Seder who said Mount Vernon received an overall rating of four out of five stars on the state report card, indicating that the district had exceeded state standards. Some schools received five-star ratings across the board.

Seder also announced that he would be accompanying East Elementary Principal Karly Watterson and some members of her staff to Washington, D.C., on Thursday where East Elementary will be recognized as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.

The theater program featured a brief scene from the MVHS play, “12 Angry Jurors,” which will be staged at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Columbia Elementary students presented readings for Veterans Day.

Wednesday’s luncheon was prepared by the high school’s six-member food service staff, which did double duty by preparing and serving the school’s regular student lunch.

Head cook Carrie Green said much of the preparation for the senior citizens luncheon was done the day before, then the pot roast, potatoes and mixed vegetables were cooked earlier on Wednesday.

“It was a little rough, but we got the job done,” she said, smiling.

Seder introduced the food service staff at the outset of the theater program. The senior citizens responded with loud applause.

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