The Port High Making Spirits Bright event involves good food, good company and a good deed — making someone’s Christmas a little happier
Good friends, tasty food, festive decorations and a clever theme — this is the recipe for the annual staff member holiday party at Port Washington High School.
But the key ingredient — the twist that makes this lunchtime gathering more than just a seasonal get-together — is the fact it’s a fundraiser meant to reflect the
true meaning of Christmas.
“It’s nice to get together with each other at this time of year and be able to do something nice for others who need a little help,” officer manager Janet Trzecinski
said. “That’s what Christmas is really all about.”
Trzecinski started the Making Spirits Bright lunch four years ago to raise money for a school custodian fighting cancer.
“We decided to just do something nice for him to make his spirits brighter,” she said. “The next year, there was someone else who needed help, so it just kept
This year’s lunch, held last week, raised money for a student.
“This student has had a really difficult year, and we’re not sure she was going to have a Christmas, so we decided to help,” Trzecinski said.
The proceeds from this year’s event haven’t been tallied yet, but the lunch typically raises between $600 and $800, Trzecinski said.
And thanks to the creative minds at Port High, helping others is an awful lot of fun.
The lunch is a contest. Staff members make dishes, then sample each other recipes during their lunch periods. Voting is done with money, and the recipe that raises the most money is the winner.
This year’s category was pasta, and while secretaries, teachers, counselors, librarians, paraprofessionals and administrators know how to run a school, they’re apparently no match for the pros when it comes to cooking. The school’s food service employees won both the hot and cold pasta divisions.
A silent auction featuring everything from treats and crafts to jewelry made by staff members is also part of the fun, as is the theme.
This year’s theme was derived from the movie “Elf,” so it is no surprise that a line from Will Farrell’s character Buddy, “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup,” inspired an ice cream sundae bar.
Then there are the decorations, which are made by students with special educational needs.
“Everybody does what they can,” special eduction teacher Karla Klein said. “For some students, it’s taping. For others it’s painting and drawing, but everybody contributes.”
Leave it to teachers to turn decorating into an important life lesson.
“It’s good for students to learn that this season is about so much more than just receiving,” Klein said. “They know the money raised is used to help somebody, and we’ve talked about how these are hard times for some people.
“No student has ever asked what they are getting out of this. They’re just happy they can help.”
Image Information: PORT HIGH science teacher Wendi Sabinash showed off her entry in the pasta salad contest during last week’s Making Spirits Bright lunch. Photo by Sam Arendt