By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Holiday Feast Students Celebrate First Thanksgiving
One by one, the Indians waiting at the door brought their chairs in to the room and set them at the table, eagerly greeting the Pilgrims seated across from them. The long, brightly decorated table was complete with placemats and a fall-colored tablecloth, with both sides full of happy, smiling third grade students.

It was Thanksgiving - a little bit early - at Dent Elementary School on Friday, with the classes of teachers Dayna Boyd and Kristin Alves sharing the festive holiday meal. They also learned the history of the gathering, with Mrs. Boyd's class dressing up as Pilgrims and Miss Alves' students taking on the role of the Native Americans. Together, the students heard about that first Thanksgiving, when the Indians helped the Pilgrims survive in their new land and they shared the harvest.

"They taught them about hunting and they (Pilgrims) probably would not have survived," said student Henry Fritzler.

Added Lauren Trejo, "The Pilgrims found the Indians and the Indians helped them."

With Mrs. Boyd's classroom serving as the gathering spot, students in both third grade classes shared in filling their plates full of a traditional holiday meal, brought in through a local grocery store. The meal featured turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Trejo said she also learned that the Pilgrims were "looking for land" when they arrived in America and Fritzler was quick to note the reason they were searching for a new place: "religious freedom."

As far as the meal they were enjoying, Trejo said her favorite part was the turkey, while Fritzler was not particular.

"I like all of it," he said.

Miss Alves said her classes have been involved in celebrating with a Thanksgiving meal at school for years.

"I just traditionally have always been the Native Americans," she said of her classes, "because I know how to make the costumes. It's down to a science at this point."

While sharing the meal, some Pilgrims and Indians sitting together were discussing how it was put together.

"I killed the turkey," said Ricky Gregory, "with a spear."

"I made the mashed potatoes," Julian Gonzalez added, getting into the spirit of the first Thanksgiving. "I mashed them with a twig."

Josafa Torrez was enjoying her meal, especially the bread, and said there were lessons learned at that first Thanksgiving that people still need to hear today.

"They said we shouldn't be fighting over stuff," Torrez said of how the Native Americans and the new arrivals worked together.

Students paid $3 for the full Thanksgiving meal and Alves said out of the 12 years she has been teaching, she's done the feast almost every year.

"I think it does make it real," fellow teacher Boyd said of bringing history into focus by sharing the meal. "These classes haven't had a lot of interaction with each other so it helps in that way as well."

After all students were served, there was even the chance to go back for second helpings, and plates were scraped clean as the youngsters enjoyed the meal and the company.