Alton Central School (ACS), N.H.: Mr. Shaffer’s Last “Bring A Loved One To Lunch Day”
by Anura Guruge
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Mr. Shaffer has been Alton Central School’s much beloved, hugely popular, well respected and ultra competent Director of Food Services. There are many outstanding people, programs and features at ACS and ‘Food Services’, THANKS to Mr. Shaffer and his protégé, Mr. Cowan, the Supervisor/Cook, is one of them.
We have known Mr. Shaffer ever since Devanee started attending ACS in 2007 and Deanna has dealt with him, keeping Devanee’s account topped up, with great success, over those years. I talk to him whenever I see him and I am very fond of him. He does a great job — with what I assume are limited resources.
He will be sorely missed, though I am sure Mr. Cowan will step into the breach. Mr. Shaffer is one of those lucky people that will be remembered, with fondness, for years to come. We wish him all of the very best. He sure has earned it.
Yesterday, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, was HIS last “Bring a Loved One To Lunch Day”. As ever it was very good BUT it was also poignant that folks like I knew that this was to be Mr. Shaffer’s last. It was good that, at the end, Mr. Cowan announced it and, as was to be expected, there was a huge round of heartfelt applause.
I don’t think I have missed a “Bring a Loved One To Lunch” in years. I always enjoy them. Also a chance to meet other parents and grandparents.
I, however, in addition to Mr. Shaffer’s upcoming retirement, felt kind of sad yesterday. About half the kids, if not more, did NOT have any loved ones present. I think that affected some of the kids — as is understandable. We are lucky that we are both ‘at home’ — and Deanna even volunteered for a few hours for the lunch. I was seated next to William. He was not somebody I knew. Very nice boy. He did not stop talking. That was fine with me. Told me about an upcoming trip to Fenway, his mother’s birthday which had fallen on Mother’s Day, his unrequited love for his girlfriend etc. etc. You could tell he was compensating for not having someone there with me. So I had to do, and I felt honored. I like kids and he was all boy — and I miss not having a young son. Matthew, at that age, was 15 years ago. But, there was a problem. He was not eating. He had a hot dog and french fries and we helped him open his ketchup, which he smothered over everything. But he wouldn’t eat. I learnt that normally he was a fast and thorough eater. I coaxed him to eat some of his french fries and he nibbled at his hot dog. But he didn’t eat it all. You could tell, that deep down, he was upset. Some other kids, who also didn’t have any ‘loved ones’ present, congregated at their own, kids only table. It was kind of sad. It even got me thinking whether these lunches, despite their value, popularity and success, are the right thing to do. Obviously it hurts some kids — like William. Something to think about.