After School Supper Club a Big Hit

Rochelle Thom, Yaa-Mitch Erickson, Isabel Ferguson, Monique Wilson, Caren Wise, Ka-Shi Hurley, and Julia Gerstner in the middle of cooking up a storm during Hoopa Valley High School’s Meditation and Supper Club. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Pop music blared from tiny speakers on Tuesday afternoon as the students in Hoopa Valley High School’s Meditation and Supper Club got to work.

Sophomore Yaa-Mitch Erickson looked up from the cutting board where she was slicing carrots. “All you have to know about Supper Club is that it’s awesome and amazing.”

Around ten students, from freshman to senior, were working at chopping, slicing, mixing, and preparing a small feast after school under the direction of the school’s Marriage Family Therapist (MFT) Caren Wise.

“We come in every Tuesday after school for three hours. We spend the first 15 minutes meditating, so they learn about the benefits of meditation,” Wise said.

Sophomore Lexi McCovey said, “It helps with calmness, stress relief, and it helps you focus and sleep good at night too.”

After meditating, the group works with Wise to plan out the meal and the timing of when each part of that night’s feast goes in the oven.

Wise said, “Tonight we’re preparing chicken, which takes an hour and a half baking, so we do that first.”

Wise showed two students how to rub butter and garlic underneath the chicken’s skin before baking, while others worked to cut the apples, onions, and carrots that would go in the pot with the chicken.

“You need to salt-and-pepper the heck out of it,” Wise said. “Then we cut up the potatoes and prepare those for baking. We also cut up the greens – kale, mustard greens and collard greens.”

Wise worked with the students, giving tips and advice while they prepared the main chicken dish, two side dishes of screaming greens and rosemary potatoes, two dips for bread, and two lemon pies.

The group usually cooks enough to feed at least 12 to 15 people, for less than $100 in supplies each week.

Junior Julia Gerstner said, “I’m so glad Auntie Caren thought of this, because we only have a few more years before we have to know this.”

Sophomore Monique Wilson looked up from where she and Ka-Shi Hurley were slicing the veins out of Kale plants. “You don’t want to be cooking ramen for your husband; he’ll be skinny.”

The students laughed, but for many in the club this might be their only opportunity to learn how to cook healthy and balanced meals before graduating high school.

Gerstner said, “I think it’s really cool that we’re doing it all organic, because everything in our society is so fast food and unhealthy. Now that we don’t have any home economics classes, this club is a Godsend.”

Ramona Sokolow, who teaches during the day in the classroom where the club meets afterschool, sampled both of the dips while the students worked on the rest of the meal.

“I really like the artichoke dip because it has an unusual flavor, but I like the bleu cheese one as well,” she said.

Sokolow added that the club was about more than learning to cook. “The highlight of this group is the joyful, cheerful energy while they’re cooking really healthy meals and learning self-calming techniques.”

Wilson nodded. “It’s educational and I can come here and hang with my friends while I cook.”

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