Howard County's interim superintendent helps serve-up Thanksgiving at Ducketts Lane

Kate Magill
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

The Thanksgiving-themed lunch served at Ducketts Lane Elementary School on Thursday had all the usual items — mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy — with one addition: hot dogs.

Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano helped serve up the school’s annual Thanksgiving lunch, held in every Howard County school the week before the holiday. Donning a pair of protective gloves and a visor, Martirano hopped behind the kitchen counter to help dole out helpings to first-grade students, asking if they wanted turkey or a hot dog.

“I want a hot dog!” was the common response.

Odelia Alfy, 7, defended her hot dog choice, as she sat among nearly 150 other first graders in the school’s cafeteria.

“I like turkey, but not today, it’s not real Thanksgiving,” she said.

Martirano’s appearance at Ducketts Lane is the latest in his efforts to put himself directly in front of students. He said he first brought up the idea of helping serve holiday meals to students to Food and Nutrition Services director Brian Ralph in August.

Martirano said it was important to him to spend time with the county’s variety of staff, including the cafeteria staff.

“I love spending time with our people, staying close to where the service occurs,” he said.

The lunch was a light moment in what is set to be a contentious day in Howard County schools, as the Board of Education is expected to announce its redistricting decision Thursday night. The decision comes days after the announcement of an Ellicott City location for Elementary School 43, and after months of tension among parents in the county.

This was Martirano’s first visit to the county’s largest elementary school, with 826 students. After he finished serving lunches, Martirano stepped out into the cafeteria to talk with students.

“Who saw my tie and socks?” Martirano asked the crowd of first-graders, pointing to the turkeys adorning his tie and signature quirky socks. First-graders shouted back in response, with a few curious ones stepping up to Martirano to take a closer look.

Remi Mason, 7, loaded up her plate with stuffing, mashed potatoes and turkey. She said her favorite part of the upcoming holiday is “the family gathering together.” She said she’s headed to Nebraska for the holiday with her family.

“My favorite food in the whole world is mashed potatoes,” Remi said.

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