NEWFANE—It was nearly standing-room only at the NewBrook School’s third-annual Harvest Dinner and Student Art Show on Nov. 19.
“Our Farm to School committee teams with our PTO [Parent Teacher Organization] to put on this annual event which includes live music, a delicious dinner, and a showcase of student art work prepared by our art teacher, Ms. Suzanne Paugh,” NewBrook Principal Scotty Tabachnick told The Commons in an email.
Tabachnick opened the festivities in the school’s multi-purpose room with a round of “thank-yous” and this assurance: “The ‘principal soup’ is not made out of a principal — don’t worry!”
The sign adorning the pot containing “principal soup” gave away the secret: it was chicken noodle.
At the big kids’ tables, adults and children squeezed together to enjoy hearty soups made by staff, students, and community members. Many of the soups were made using such locally grown ingredients as carrots, kale, and the famous Gilfeather turnip.
A dessert table overflowed with homemade cookies, brownies, and pies.
Each long table was covered by white paper and a few boxes of crayons, allowing attendees to participate in making art if they needed a break from viewing it. Tables also held baskets and platters of bread, cheese, and apples, all donated by local businesses.
The perimeter of the room displayed the colorful, multi-media art, courtesy of NewBrook’s students.
Artists were seen pulling friends and family by the hands to view their pieces. Some posed for pictures, while others shyly avoided the paparazzi.
One young fellow who did not want his picture taken was lauded by his after-school art teacher, Greenough Nowakoski.
“He’s a very focused artist with a lot of self-direction,” Nowakoski said, adding, “he loves patterns.”
Rowan Mattson, a first-grade student, showed off his creation, part of the “What’s on Your Plate? Designing Inside a Circle” project.
A sign explained that the assignment charged students with “thinking about filling space, layering color, adding texture, and controlling glue to create the world’s most interesting dinner plates!”
Rowan’s piece portrayed a cheerful face using “buttons, orange tissue paper, blue tissue paper, and ribbon” — and he also “got some charcoal and a charcoal smudger and used it on top for the hair.”
Rowan’s brother, Sam, a third grader, held a dozen eggs over his head and smiled. He was excited his mom won the eggs in the silent auction.
Sam’s contribution to the art show was a gigantic, one-dimensional paper pumpkin, part of the “Pumpkin Mob” created by children in grades two, three, and four. It took up most of the room’s western wall.
Some of the art on display that evening was created in collaboration. Three kids — Alora, Abbi, and Sophia — posed for a photo next to “The Elvas Family,” their three-dimensional, mixed-media piece featuring Mr. and Mrs. Elvas and their child.
After the photo shoot ended, one of the girls said to the other two, “I can be free now — my parents just walked away.”
The musical arts portion of the evening was provided by a variety of performers, including many of the students. As attendees entered the room, the sounds of Bada Raga — Joel Eisenkramer and Jed Blume — greeted them.
After dinner, music teacher Kate Ullman led the room in a singalong whose theme was gratitude.
“Thank you for the world so sweet/thank you for the food we eat,” the attendees sang.
Afterwards, Windham Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Steven John led a raucous a cappella tune about the evening’s culinary focus.
“Soup! Soup! Soup!” shouted the superintendent, starting the first verse.
“I eat it with a scoop!” came next.
Then, John paused the song for a moment.
“I can’t hear you!” he bellowed before requesting the youngsters prod the recalcitrant adults into singing louder.
As John returned to the song, waving his arms in time to the music, the gaggle of children crowded around him, jumping and singing.
Meanwhile, over in the corner, attendees lined up to purchase raffle tickets and sign up in the hopes of winning one of the many silent auction items, such as a night’s stay at the Four Columns Inn, four pints of Vermont Gelato, and dozens of locally-raised eggs.
Proceeds from the raffle and auction go to funding the school’s Farm to School Program, which, Tabachnick said, is working on a renovation project to double the size of the school’s kitchen.
“It’s a great turnout,” Tabachnick said of the event.
When a bystander commented to the principal on how well-behaved and polite the NewBrook students are, Tabachnick looked around the room at the scores of adults in attendance — teachers, parents, caregivers, community supporters.
“It’s because of all these people here,” he said.