Ritual holiday dinners bring smiles to students and cadets as semester ends

Third Company gathers as a group at the Christmas Holiday dinner at Wise Center Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Third Company gathers as a festive group at the Christmas Holiday dinner at Wise Center Tuesday, Dec. 15.

In celebration of the holiday season, students indulge in themed style dinners at the Wise Campus Center (WCC) and cadets renew bonds they forged back when they were rooks. “It’s a time of the year students plan to eat together with friends and platoon members before everyone heads home for break,” according to Samel DeLong, 21, the Regimental Executive Officer (XO).

DeLong, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Barnstable, Mass., added that, “having a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is very valuable, because it offers a time for students to bond over a fun-filled meal”.

When the dates are set for the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, students begin planning for the event. “For those of us in the Corps, platoon members schedule a time a place to meet up to march down to the WCC,” said Francisco Martinez, 22, a senior criminal justice major from Aurora, Ill.

“The holiday dinners allow platoon members that may have gone their separate ways after their freshmen year to get back together for a night,” Martinez explained. Traditionally, platoons lose their cohesion after freshmen year because post-recognition into the Corps, members of the platoons are no longer scheduled to live, eat, and train together.

“Getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner I didn’t know what to expect, we (platoon) formed up in front of Gerard Hall just like we did freshmen year,” said Ethan Jones, 20, a sophomore criminal justice major from Boxboro, Mass. “When our cadre arrived to march us down, it reminded me of freshmen year, when we would march down to chow every night – but this was the first time I was excited,” he said.

Every year the preparations for the dinners change. “Once you are a sophomore, preparing for the dinners is fun, everyone is excited to eat like a family again,” said Charles Brooks, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Brewster, Mass.

One change that has been made is that “rooks no longer PT (Physical Training) outside the WCC before they go in,” Brooks said. “When I was cadre we were able to PT in front of the chow hall, so when I marched my freshmen (currently sophomores) to the Thanksgiving dinner, we did push-ups to replicate the freshmen year routine.”

Brooks said the main point was the camaraderie and revisiting their freshman year memories. “Most importantly, students enjoy meeting up with their friends or Rook buddies, then heading down to the WCC to feast on good food, enjoy the pleasing environment, and truly to spend time with their closest friends,” he said.

The dinners offer a large variety of food in coordination with the holiday. During the Thanksgiving dinner the meal is traditionally what would be expected, “when you walk into the chow hall it is decorated with corn, cutouts of turkeys, and other novelty Thanksgiving accessories like pilgrim hats,” Jones said, adding that “there are multiple food stations that have turkey, squash, mashed potatoes, stuffing and various side dishes,” along with lots of desserts.

The Christmas dinner offers a very similar experience, with the big difference being that “professors and faculty will be on the other side of the counter, serving students their meals,” noted Mario Caruso, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Killingworth, Conn. That includes Norwich President Richard Schneider, who helps out every year.

President Richard Schneider gets in the holiday spirit at the annual Christmas dinner at Wise Center. From left to right with the president are rooks Garsevan Bekuari, Amber Reichart, William Espana and Marshall Harrison.

President Richard Schneider gets in the holiday spirit at the annual Christmas dinner at Wise Center. From left to right with the president are rooks Garsevan Bekuari, Amber Reichart, William Espana and Marshall Harrison.

Caruso said having the teachers serve food brings smiles to students’ faces because they have been working hard all semester and now they finally get to enjoy a night with their teachers before the semester comes to a close.

“It is truly a great experience, it brings students together for a great meal with their second families,” Jones added. He recalled that “the first Thanksgiving dinner I had not as a Rook, was a meal I’m not going to forget, it was great recapping all the good times we had as Rooks over a great meal.”

It is also a bittersweet time for seniors, who know they are heading down to the Wise Center for their final holiday dinners at Norwich.

“It’s a different type of feeling heading down to eat with your closest friends, knowing it’s possibly the last time we’re all going to eat together as a platoon,” Martinez said.

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