Center celebrates holiday with lunch

Sarah Eames | The Daily StarJohn Taylor, dean of students at Otsego-Northern Catskill BOCES, serves first-grader Bennett Ralston during the school’s Thanksgiving luncheon Monday.

MILFORD — Staff and administrators at the Otsego-Northern Catskills BOCES hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon on Monday for more than 150 students in the alternative education and Innovative Programs.

“The kids have been very receptive of the meal,” said John Taylor, the school’s dean of students. “They’re very polite — great kids.”

Taylor joined school resource officer James Cox, an Otsego County Sheriff’s deputy; Jason Sanchez, director of special education services, and school principal Ryan DeMars in serving the students buffet-style.

Price Chopper catered the meal, which featured turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and pie.

“The turkey was good, but I don’t like mashed potatoes,” said first-grader Bennett Ralston, who attended the luncheon with his class.

The meal was funded by donations from the Laurens and Mount Vision fire departments, Don and Dody Lindberg, the Otsego County Deputy Sheriffs’ Benevolent Association, and area businesses, according to district officials.

Jennifer Bowen, the school’s behavioral specialist, coordinated the luncheon as part of the guidance department’s social-emotional learning curriculum, which features classroom activities centered around monthly themes such as resilience and respect.

“We try to tie in with things like suicide prevention month and adoption awareness — anything to do with mental health,” Bowen said.

In celebration of November’s theme — caring — Bowen said staff members designed bulletin boards with turkeys and allowed students to recognize their peers for demonstrating caring by posting turkey feathers and offering incentives for filling the board.

“They really enjoyed the meal more than I expected,” Bowen said.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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