By Vanessa Kahin
It’s school lunch with a twist — a way to honor, thank, and “send off” the educators who are just days away from the challenge of teaching Clovis’ youth.
The annual teacher appreciation luncheon — which is open not only to Clovis teachers, but also to school support staff, administrators, and school system retirees — is two weeks away, but already cookin’.
The event is expected to attract about 700 guests, said organizers Pat Moody and Anne Linville. Another volunteer, Melody Rikel, will help prepare the meal starting as early as the day before the event.
Rikel, who’s been cooking the appreciation luncheon meal for the past eight years, said she coordinates the menu with Moody and Linville; does the planning for the meal, and orders what is needed.
Rikel said she does not focus on the number of people for whom she cooks.
“I try not to think that I’m cooking for 700 people,” Rikel said with a laugh. “That sounds a little overwhelming.”
Rikel spoke of her group of volunteers — about 10 in number — who will help cook a menu set to feature barbecue chicken sandwiches, beans, coleslaw, potato chips and peach cobbler.
All cooking, Rikel said, will be done on the premises at Central Baptist Church.
“We do it to show our appreciation and love for our teachers and staff,” Rikel said. “We want to also be an example of the free love Jesus shows to us. (The luncheon) is just a tangible way of showing that.”
It takes about 70 volunteers to put on the event.
“It works out really fast,” Moody said. “(People) can’t believe we can serve that many people. It’s because of the volunteers.”
On Aug. 12, volunteers will bake the event’s desserts. On Aug. 14, cooking will begin and volunteers will decorate the locale.
“It’s a ministry that’s really close to my heart,” said Linville, a retired teacher who taught for 34 years, mostly with the Clovis Municipal Schools.
Originally from North Carolina, Linville taught second grade at Sandia Elementary.
Linville said the event is an opportunity to have fellowship, become reacquainted with old friends and gear up for the upcoming school year.
“It’s an awesome way to get (teachers and staff) all together,” Linville said.
What: Teacher appreciation luncheon
Who: A free event for Clovis teachers, school support staff and administrators
When: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 15
Where: Central Baptist Church, 2501 N. Norris St.