First Flight Students Support Ocracoke

By on December 2, 2019

First Flight High School

Lela Ingram, Chuck Lansing and Thomas McGeachy in front of the banner signed by members of the FFHS community prior to serving Wednesday’s meal at the community center. (Photo by Chuck Lansing)

The First Flight High School family fed more than 450 Ocracoke residents on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving thanks to monetary donations from students, parents, staff and community members as well as food donations from local businesses.

Members of the FFHS men’s basketball team have provided Thanksgiving dinners to dozens of local families for years, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Principal Chuck Lansing talked with coach Chad Williams about expanding the service project to help Ocracoke. The ambitious plan included a fundraiser used to purchase ingredients for side items, food donations from Food Lion, Publix, Barefoot Bernie’s and High Cotton, and prep work by the FFHS Culinary Arts
students under the direction of teacher Lisa Muglia and High Cotton head cook Jared Strawcutter.

On Tuesday, Lansing and Williams were joined by assistant principals Lela Ingram and Thomas McGeachy, instructional technology facilitator Crissie Weeks, and art teachers Alice Baldwin and Jenna Saunders as they caught the last ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke. The group stayed at a donated house Tuesday night, but didn’t get a lot of sleep as they took turns keeping the turkey, chicken, ham and barbecue warm all night.

Wednesday at 5 in the morning, the Nighthawks gathered at the Ocracoke Community Center to get everything ready, only to discover that just one of the three cookers was working. Lansing praised his team for working together to get everything ready by the time the first residents began showing up at 10:30.

FFHS students had prepared macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and potato salad in the culinary classes Monday and Tuesday. High Cotton prepared the pork, Food Lion donated hams and Barefoot Bernie’s provided turkeys. Dessert came compliments of Publix. A steady stream of locals came by for meals until shortly after 1.

“Everybody was so nice, very appreciative,” Lansing said. “I was proud that we were able to go down there and that First Flight was able to help that many people.”

Leftover money from the fundraiser will be donated directly to the Ocracoke Community Center, and Lansing encouraged people to be on the lookout for other opportunities to support the island in the coming weeks. Toy drives and Christmas decoration collections are still taking place.

Most of the residents remain despite the damage done by Dorian and even the recent nor’easter that came through. And most have no intention of leaving anytime soon. “I was speaking to one lady who said she’d lived there 36 years and she’s never leaving,” Lansing said. “Hearing people be that passionate and have that much pride in living there is just amazing, and it made me feel grateful for what we have here in our community.”


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