A Look into the Sumptuous Staff Luncheon

Jonathan Tenenbaum, Staff Writer

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As fresh-baked cookies are plated, still radiating warmth, and arrangements of international cuisine are set; as appreciative parents lug pots upon pots and plates upon plates stacked high with home-cooked and store-bought meals into the library, among shelves of novels and encyclopedias, teachers settle in to dine like royalty to the faint hum of holiday tunes and the clinking of plastic cups. The beautiful aroma of the banquet wafts through the halls followed by a trail of hungry teachers. This is the Staff Holiday Luncheon, an annual event defined for years by student lore and hyperbole.

Tenafly High School teachers have been dining in luxury at the annual staff luncheon, held a week before the start of Christmas break, for years. At this parent-organized event, parents and guardians of students display their appreciation for THS’s teachers by bringing food and refreshments to the library. The meal’s features include a sushi selection and even a candy bar with take-home bags.

Many students know the luncheon for its characteristic occupation of the library and the tantalizing aromas it carries throughout the school. Naturally, as students are forbidden to enter the library on this date, and have at most only caught a glimpse of the event, many have spun exaggerated tales of the feast and its luxury.

“I heard the teachers eat nothing but caviar and fill their glasses at a gold fountain of champagne. At least, that’s what people say,” said Jonathon Glatzer (’21), “But jokes aside, it does smell really, really, really good.”

Holiday Staff Luncheon Mid-Feast

However, one can’t entirely blame the student body for its embellished image of the occasion, as teachers have been known to have a bit of fun when telling stories to students about the event’s delicious display.

“The food was amazingly delicious. I’m all about the candy bar. In fact, just to rub it in a bit more, I took a bag of candy and brought it to my car. They had Swedish Fish, Jelly Belly, Nestle Crunch, I’m just going to keep going. I’m going to be eating jelly beans at 7:00 in the morning on my way to work,” laughed Mrs. Nager.

“I love the staff luncheon. It’s definitely one of the best events of the year and one of my favorites by far. I really appreciate the parents doing this for the teachers in an act of thankfulness and the teachers are very grateful for their cooperation each year. The food is great and I love to taunt students afterward because they. Can’t. Come,” said Mr. Hutchinson with a grin.

To uncover the truth behind the event, I put on my freshly-laminated press pass and ventured into the midst of holiday feasting. I walked up to the doors with confidence and peered into the glorious celebration of holiday cheer that lay before me. However, I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated. Looking at the extravagant display of balloons and tens of teachers mid-conversation, I felt awkward interrupting conversations and, strangely enough, felt that I was encroaching upon a sacred boundary, something that simply shouldn’t be crossed. My initial sense of conviction fizzled away and I was left defeated. Although disheartened, eventually coming away with the decision to interview teachers post-luncheon, I found a deeper meaning beyond the initial tales of grandeur and comical exaggeration: an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

“It felt really nice to sit by and drop everything—to just have this warm time to share with my colleagues. When you have a gathering like this you enjoy the opportunity to, yes, take part in the food, but, on the other hand, also to understand what the holidays have to offer you. Yes, I love the infinitely epic Hershey’s Kisses, but the parents also really put in an effort to demonstrate their appreciation, and it shows,” said Mrs. Oppedisano.

That is what makes the parent-teacher relationship in Tenafly so profound and unique: a two-way appreciation. This valuable bond—in which parents have the opportunity to display their thanks to the teachers who educate and guide their children and teachers return this gratitude through their immense effort and passion for teaching—has allowed Tenafly to reach the recognition in education it has.

As the heavenly smell of food fills the school and the sound of teachers chattering floats through the halls, it is simply impossible to not get in the holiday spirit, especially as the luncheon’s true roots in thankfulness are made plain to both see and smell.

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