No mystery meat here: Lunch at Albany Options School this week included a full Thanksgiving dinner, roasted turkey and all.

Staff members spent Tuesday and Wednesday putting together the dinner for about 100 people at the alternative high school, then served it up Wednesday afternoon in place of the usual cafeteria fare.

Students and staff dined together on turkey (four 20-pounders), stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, bacon-studded Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with gravy, and thick slices of pumpkin and apple pies.

"I think it's going to be good, because I know all the ladies here are really good cooks. I'm excited," said junior Bobby Weatherford, 17. "I heard there's four huge trays of mashed potatoes."

Anna Harryman, the school's counselor, came up with the dinner plan with the help of office manager/registrar Gwen Baker. They pulled it off with the assistance of special education assistant Mary Lou Boydston and clerical specialist Debra Fewless, plus donations of supplies, cash and pies from the school and teachers. 

The whole thing took a little less than $300, Harryman said. Parents sometimes kick in a little to the school's accounts to make such events easier to put on.

Principal John Hunter carved the turkeys Tuesday and did the serving on Wednesday with help from Superintendent Jim Golden. Leadership and art class students at AOS made all the decorations.

"We're always looking for ways to improve our school culture and climate. So this is one way to celebrate the holidays, bring us all together as one big happy family," Harryman said. "The other reason is a lot of our kids don't have access to the resources to have a holiday feast at home this weekend, so this is one way for us to bring Thanksgiving to them."

It was hard for students to wait, she added. On Tuesday, "They complained a lot this morning because we were preparing the stuffing and the smell was just killing them." 

This is the first time AOS has put on a Thanksgiving dinner, and so far, students and staff say it looks like a big success.

"I think it's awesome, because, like, some of the kids may go home and they may not have a Thanksgiving dinner. So I think this is awesome and brings everyone together," said senior Amber Scott, 19.

She added: "I think them doing this just shows they want to do good things for the students, make the students feel welcome and that they're loved here as well."

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