Students and staff in Regional School Unit 20 kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday a little early this week, serving up turkey dinners with all the fixings and inviting parents and members of the community to join them for the feasts.

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Kermit Nickerson School in Swanville hosted its annual community Thanksgiving dinner, a meal that is made possible by the school's head cook, Debbie Mitchell, and a whole bunch of volunteers who put in lots of time and effort to make the event a success.

The meal, which has been know locally as "Debbie's famous Thanksgiving dinner," drew parents, younger siblings and grandparents, a crowd that filled the school cafeteria.

Nickerson Elementary School Principal Abigail Hartford said the school has hosted the dinner for a number of years — Mitchell said she has put on the dinner for the 19 years she has worked at the school.

The dinner was certainly appreciated by a number of students who dug into the traditional Thanksgiving menu items.

"This turkey is so good," said third-grader Kaden Barnett.

Thursday, Nov. 21, students at Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE) put on a Thanksgiving dinner and invited members of the community, including members of the RSU 20 administrative staff, Waldo County Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton and BCOPE volunteer music teacher Tim Woitowitz.

BCOPE Coordinator Gary Skigen said as is the case with the Nickerson School, the BCOPE dinner has become a long standing tradition that the students and staff have come to look forward to each year.

"They were doing this when I came to the building over 10 years ago," said Skigen.

After Skigen brought out the turkey, signaling the official start of the meal, a student asked all who were wearing hats to please remove them out of respect for the event.

Skigen said a few words of thanks before everyone dug in, and offered thoughts to the people of the Philippines who are still reeling from the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan, as well as residents in the Midwest who were impacted by a series of powerful tornadoes earlier this month.

Then Skigen invited all to enjoy the wide variety of dishes the students and staff worked to create just for the occasion.

"Let's have a good meal," Skigen said. "Thank you."