A group of students in Morehead may not be related, but its weekly dinners rival those of many families.
Marc Lester and eight other Lawrence County High School graduates gather at his university apartment every Thursday for their “family dinner” as a way to stay connected, while their busy college lives may otherwise pull them apart.
All of the attendees are juniors and seniors at MSU, except for Scott Ellis, a sophomore.
“We all went to Lawrence County High School, but I personally never had a class with any of them,” Ellis said. “I didn’t really get to know anyone until I started at Morehead.”
Lester said the dinners serve as a refresher for the group at the end of a hectic week.
“It’s nice to have one night a week where we can sit down like a family and enjoy a home-cooked meal, talk about the week, or just hang out,” Lester said.
Lester’s fiancée, Morgan Cox, also attends the dinners. She said everyone cooks on a volunteer basis.
“Anyone who wants to cook can prepare a meal on any given week” Cox said. “If you want to cook, though, you gotta call dibs. It’s kind of a big deal.”
The friends said they found the volunteer process to be effective.
“It takes the burden off of one person having to prepare a meal every week,” Lester said. “Someone may have a busy week and won’t have time to prepare a meal.”
Since the dinners first started, the friends have prepared a variety of foods including lasagnas, soups and desserts.
Emily Mills has cooked several meals for the group this semester.
“I have cooked deep-fried burritos, chicken casserole and barbeque chicken with mashed potatoes and mac and cheese,” Mills said. “I’ve also made desserts like brownie sundaes and banana pudding.”
Lester said cooking together is not only a way to bond with friends, it is a bit of a date-night-in for him and his fiancée.
“It’s fun for us. We get to play house,” Lester said. “It’s quality time together and better than any date night out.”
Cox said she looks at the dinners as an educational experience.
“I’m learning to be able to feed myself when I’m out in the real world and not relying on ADUC or Alumni for food,” Cox said. “Cooking experience is definitely good, even if I have to use my friends as my guinea pigs in the process.”
All the dinners have been homemade except for one.
“We all had exams that week,” Lester said. “We ordered pizza like all families tend to do from time to time.”
Also, as families do, the group celebrates birthdays and holidays together.
“We recently had a potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner in place of the traditional family dinner,” Mills said. “We plan to have a Christmas-themed dinner in the near future.”
Caroline Heston attends the dinners. She said the get-togethers aren’t just about the food.
“We socialize and catch up on what is going on in one another’s lives,” Heston said.
The group agreed the family dinners give them something to look forward to every week.
“I know that on Thursday I can finally take a break from studying and just enjoy being with friends,” Cox said.
Michael Adkins was the last to join in on the dinners.
“I have known Marc since we played basketball together in elementary school,” Adkins said. “It’s really cool that we all are still hanging out and doing this kind of thing because some friendships dwindle out after high school, but we have kept close.”
Adkins said the friends usually stick around after dinner if they don’t have to get up early the next day.
“We go with the flow when it comes to activities after dinner,” Adkins said. “Sometimes we watch a ballgame. We may watch a movie or play games and just enjoy each other’s company.”
The participants agreed the family dinners give them something to look forward to every week.
“It’s always a good time with great friends,” Heston said.
SARAH BECKELHEIMER is a student with Morehead State’s Convergent Media.