SNOHOMISH — A few too many people in the kitchen is a sure sign of a good Thanksgiving.
In Snohomish, students and teachers treat each other like family.
A cook announced the turkey needed 15 more minutes. People lingered by the stove. One student snuck a taste of the stuffing from a metal pot.
“It’s good!” he said.
With his blessing, the dish made its way to the table that was decorated with fake autumn leaves and small pumpkins. They pushed desks into a line so everyone could sit together.
The Transition Center, a program in the Snohomish School District that serves young adults with special needs, hosts a Thanksgiving dinner every year. Not everyone has a big turkey dinner at home, said Michael Graystone, a teacher at the center. On Thursday, they shared one with friends.
The 18 students split up cooking duties. They peeled potatoes, sauteed onions for the green bean casserole and mixed together filling for apple pies.
Carlee Govaeit, 20, was responsible for the mashed potatoes. While waiting for the turkey to roast, she stood in the doorway of the kitchen eating leftover potatoes from a cooking utensil.
This is Govaeit’s last year in the three-year program. The Transition Center teaches students between ages 18 and 21 life and vocational skills. They make budgets, hone their job interview skills and practice cooking. Teachers also help them obtain their food handler’s card and driver’s license.
Graystone hopes his students go on to find jobs that help them live independently.
“They can always come back, too,” he said.
Former students often reach out to Graystone for advice or just to say hello.
Through the program, Govaeit landed a volunteer position at the Fred Meyer in Snohomish and Walgreens in Lake Stevens. She stocks the beauty departments.
She is looking to pursue a career in cosmetology or art. Govaeit sells her acrylic paintings of mountains and lakes. Her parents sometimes send her pictures when they come across beautiful views of Puget Sound or a sunset as inspiration.
Across the kitchen, Dawson Kellar watched as people bustled in and out of the kitchen. Thursday was his first Thanksgiving at the Transition Center. The 19-year-old said he was thankful for “my family and a roof over my head and my girlfriend.”
The couple met three years ago. They both were contestants in the Special Olympics at school.
Kellar is working toward getting his driver’s license so he can visit family in Vancouver, and once the weather warms up, go camping at Mount Baker.
Sara Smith, 20, made the table festive. Napkins at each place-setting read: Gobble till you wobble.
She didn’t stay in one area of the center for long. She talked with all of her classmates. Another student arrived just in time for Thanksgiving dinner and Smith greeted her with a hug.
When Graystone joked with her, Smith would say, “Silly Mr. Mike.”
As the turkey was pulled out of the oven, students and teachers found their seats around the table. The chairs were squeezed in side by side.
Graystone hoped the students went home that day with a sense of togetherness.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.