Senior citizens from throughout western Essex County spent Wednesday morning enjoying a special breakfast and a holiday concert featuring food and performances by West Essex Regional High School students at the annual West Essex High School Senior Citizen Breakfast & Holiday Concert.
More than 205 senior citizens, more than double the number of seniors who attended the event last year, feasted on a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, baked French toast, crumb coffee cake, muffins, juice, coffee and tea, admired students’ artwork on display and enjoyed performances by the high school choral, instrumental and dance groups.
“The food was delicious and the entertainment was just wonderful,” said an enthusiastic Marie Bauer of North Caldwell after leaving the auditorium at the end of the program at 11 a.m. Mrs. Bauer happily accepted a bag of homemade cookies baked by students in the Culinary Arts II & Food and Sports Nutrition class taught by Caren Maw. The students also prepared all of the food for the breakfast with the assistance of the Pomptonian Food Service, the School District’s food service provider.
“The students are so talented,” said Joy DiChiara of West Caldwell who came with her friends from the West Caldwell Senior Women’s Club and the Notre Dame Senior Women’s Club.
“We are definitely coming back here for the breakfast next year,” proclaimed Alice Mattia of Caldwell as she admired the artwork on display in the cafeteria. “They must have wonderful teachers here.”
“This is amazing,” said Pauline Scriffignano of West Caldwell. “Please remember to invite us next year!”
Joe Piel, of West Caldwell, a former principal of West Essex High School from 1966-1971, said he enjoys coming back to West Essex High School for the senior breakfast every year. “It is great,” he said. “I like meeting all of the people that are still on the staff (from when I was here.) There are not too many of them.”
Many culinary students said they enjoyed preparing the breakfast. “I learned what it is like to work in a restaurant setting,” said Nicole Tavares, a senior from Fairfield.
“I learned how difficult it is to prepare a meal for so many people,” said culinary student Vulnet Volina, a junior from North Caldwell.
“You kids did an amazing job,” said Michael Corydon, food service director for Pomptonian Food Service, who worked with the students.
Students served the senior citizens their breakfast. While the seniors ate, they also watched performances by the high school jazz band, “The Accolades,” honors choir, the Varsity Dance Team and West Essex Orchestra. They also anxiously waited for their ticket numbers to be called out to receive door prizes featuring donations from many local businesses, including ShopRite of West Caldwell, Calandra’s Italian Village of Caldwell, Gelotti, Manhattan Bagel and the Original Pancake House.
The seniors later moved to the auditorium for more performances by the orchestra, the West Essex Band, the Mixed Chorus and the Women’s Choir.
“It’s nice that we can do this for them,” said Fairfield senior Victoria Weston, a member of the Dance Team after her performance. “I am sure it brightened their holiday.”
Laura Drago, the Instruction Supervisor of Social Studies, Business, Fine and Practical Arts, oversaw the planning of the breakfast with Derek Sica, Supervisor of World Language and Music. “I think this event was spectacular,” Drago said. “The students are the pride of West Essex. The servers, the culinary students, the performers and the art students show what talent we have here at West Essex.”
Drago also thanked the West Essex Foundation for Education and the West Essex Parent Teacher Association for their generous donations to make the event possible. In addition, she and Sica thanked West Essex Superintendent of Schools Barbara Longo, Acting Principal Juliann Hoebee, Family and Consumer Science teachers Judy Crawford, Jill Schneck and Caren Maw, art teachers Eileen Dormer, John Atura and Amanda Proccacino and business and art teacher Marjorie Jameson. They also thanked Band Director John Scozzaro, Orchestra Director Alex Soares, Choral Director Christa Sorrentino and Middle School Choral Director Donna Mateyka, who accompanied the choirs on piano.
West Essex Acting High School Principal Juliann Hoebee said she enjoyed the event. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase our students’ dynamic talents and share them with the very supportive senior community,” Hoebee said. “It was a very enjoyable morning.”