Though classes at Tahlequah Public Schools were not in session, the cafeteria at Greenwood Elementary School was bustling on Monday.
Customers were lining up for a local holiday tradition to purchase tasty tea rings, and choir students were spending a day off from school to prepare the popular treats.
“I’m here because I am part of the choir and this is very important to me,” said Jacob Dolac.
The Tahlequah High School choir and show choir are preparing and selling their tea rings to raise money to attend the 2014 Spring National Vocal Competition in Chicago.
“This is a tradition started by [former choir director] Marjorie Malone with the help of [former Northeastern State University choir director] Dr. Ralph Whitworth decades ago,” said Haley Stocks, choir director. “The community loves this. As soon as the weather turns bitterly cold, people start asking about the tea rings.”
The students who turned out Monday at Greenwood were kept busy. Patrons were walking out with arms full of tea rings, or wheeling them out on carts.
“I think it is busier because school is out,” said Hayden Taylor, as he placed cherries and pecans on the rings. “We’ve gotten more people as the day has gone on.”
Stocks said the choirs always sell tea rings the Monday before Thanksgiving, which draws customers.
“We traditionally do a lot of business on that day,” she said. “And this is a tradition we can’t stop. We sell them as fast as we can make them.”
Kate Bell was responsible for spooning the icing on the rings.
“To make one of these, you need a lot of free time and heart,” she said. “You can have a small group of students, but if you have the perfect combination of people with drive and dedication, you can make a lot of tea rings.”
Stocks said the 2013-’14 choir students exemplified the dedication that has made the fundraiser so successful through the years.
“They all have big hearts and they work really hard,” she said. “They show up early and stay late. They are an amazing group of kids, and it is an honor to be their director.”
Those who missed Monday’s sale still have a couple of chances to buy a holiday treat. Tea rings will be sold in the Greenwood cafeteria from 5-8 p.m. Monday and on Dec. 10.
Each tea ring is $8. Orders can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop-in orders are welcome, and there is no limit on quantity.
To learn more about what goes into making a tea ring, go to www.tahlequahdailypress.com/onlineexclusives