TORRINGTON — History teacher Robert Lesser wanted to find a way to help Friendly Hands Food Bank and, at the same time, involve his ESL students in something fun.
“We decided to have a contest, picking the kids’ favorite teacher or staff member,” Lesser said. “So they asked other students to vote for their favorites, and got donations for each vote. They called me the ‘Mayor of Turkington.’”
Once the votes were tallied, the winners were security officer Robin Covelli in first place and guidance counselor Ryan Dickens in second.
When school let out on Tuesday, the group met Friendly Hands Food Bank Executive Director Karen Thomas in front of the high school and presented her with bags of bills and change totaling more than $500, proceeds from the contest.
Lesser was joined by a large group of students, library media specialist Sara Natrillo and teacher Vicki Mancini to make the presentation.
“This started out as something fun, but once it caught on, the students got into it and it just got bigger and bigger,” Lesser said. “I didn’t realize we’d raise that much.”
Covelli, wearing an orange turkey costume with a matching hat and tail feathers, and Dickens in a brown-and-green getup, were supposed to perform a “chicken dance” outdoors, but the cold weather Tuesday morning shortened the presentation a bit.
In spite of that, Covelli said she was excited to be part of it, since Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 25 — also is her birthday. “This is the best way to celebrate it,” she said.
“Their prize as the winners is to keep those costumes on all day,” Lesser said. “They don’t really seem to mind at all.”
Thomas, who with her staff and volunteers spent the early part of the week handing out turkeys and all the fixings for dinner to needy families in and around Torrington, thanked the kids for the donation.
“This is just fantastic, and to see the teachers in their costumes was hysterical,” she said. “You are helping a lot of people with the money you raised. Thank you so very much.”
Emily M. Olson - The Register Citizen, November 24, 2021
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