By Candace Birkelbach

Killeen Daily Herald

Third-grader Cameron Hardacre scooped up a hefty bite of cranberry sauce to his mouth and declared that he had not eaten the stuff for a while.

Hardacre, 8, munched on all the Thanksgiving trimmings with his classmates Wednesday afternoon at Fowler Elementary School's annual Thanksgiving lunch.

The school has celebrated this tradition for many years – since the school opened in 1956 – as a way to have an authentic way to celebrate with staff, principal Debra Drever said.

After nine years, Elma Cook, a former teacher at Fowler Elementary School, still comes back for the Thanksgiving lunch.

Cook said she comes every year to the lunch to see old friends and has some former students who are now teachers at Fowler.

Other former teachers and principals reunite each year to share a holiday meal with former co-workers and students in the school's cafeteria.

Drever said students get excited about having the Thanksgiving meal when the tables are decorated and some classes take their meals back to the classroom for a family-style lunch.

Each table was draped in fall-print tablecloths and turkeys made from brown paper bags.

The meal consisted of turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, corn bread stuffing, green beans, yams, pumpkin pie, fruit and milk.

"This meal takes a little more preparation, like you'd expect with any holiday meal," Drever said.

Cafeteria manager Eva Gringnon said she enjoys seeing people who have attended classes or worked at the school in the past.

She said children enjoy the festive decorations and sharing a meal together.

Gringnon said she appreciates the Fort Hood soldiers who help serve the meal. Members from the school's adopted unit come each year to plate up Thanksgiving meals for the students.

After sampling the cranberry sauce, Cameron said Thanksgiving is a special holiday because all of his family members come together.

"We go to my relatives' house and watch movies," he said.

Cameron smiled as he said his favorite dish at the lunch was the pumpkin pie.

Third-grader Mollie Henderson said she especially liked the mashed potatoes.

Mollie said she likes having all of her family around at Thanksgiving and is looking forward to seeing her grandmother.

The Thanksgiving lunch is one of many traditions at Fowler, Drever said.

The PTA has a Thanksgiving program, and students also collect canned food items for a fundraiser.

Several other local elementary schools have traditional Thanksgiving meals in November.

Contact Candace Birkelbach at or call (254) 501-7553

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