South Salt Lake • Granite Park Jr. High’s new principal, Aaron Wilson, marvels at the diversity of his school’s nearly 600 students and their families.

Many are refugees, and more than 60 percent speak English as a second language. But with about 90 percent of students also qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, Wilson and several staff members at the school worried that many might not have enough food over the two-week winter break.

“These kids influence us,” Wilson said, “and if students need access to food or other basic needs, then we do our best to provide everything we can for them.”

To help them through the holidays, members of Granite Park’s faculty and staff hosted a spaghetti dinner Friday night for students and family members. Sixteen teachers served the dinner, dubbed “Dinner at the Park.”

Donated spaghetti sauce and pasta came from the Granite Education Foundation. Area eatery Kneaders Bakery provided bread, and folks from Westminster College’s education department gave plastic containers so students could take home leftovers.

There were games and activities for students and siblings. Leftovers were delivered to several local community centers and refugee groups, to reach families that couldn’t attend the dinner.

Wilson said he hopes the holiday dinner will become a yearly tradition. He described it as an opportunity to convey an important message to his students.

“This signals to the kids that they matter — how powerful is that?” he said. “They see their principal and math teacher with aprons on serving in a meal line, saying hello to their families. This helps us make a connection between school and home.”