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Students Learn Lessons In Giving Thanks
Kindergarten students feasted on foods that might have been served up at the first Thanksgiving and they even made their own butter, the scene playing out in teacher Sarah Shank's classroom on the campus of Dent Elementary School on Friday.

Having already made their Indian vests and Pilgrim hats, students chose which they wanted to be and then found the turkey placemat with their name on it to sit down at the table - Pilgrims and Indians together - to give thanks and share a holiday meal.

Jerky, craisins (cranberry and raisins together), popcorn, apple juice, chicken soup and crackers spread with their own butter served as the feast and more than one student came back for seconds on many of the items.

The butter was made by putting whipping cream into small baby food jars and having the children take turns shaking them, eventually turning the cream into butter.

"I had a friend who had seven kids, and this is how she used to keep them busy while she was making dinner," Shank explained. "You use whipping cream and they shake it up."

With a few more than seven kids in her class, and more than one jar containing the soon-to-be-butter, Shank said things did get hectic.

"There was a little bit of chaos when they were all shaking," she said with a smile.

At the table, Brave Buffalo sat next to Running Deer, and both were happy to share their meal with Pilgrims sitting nearby, learning all about the first Thanksgiving and how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims centuries ago.

Shank at one point asked what each was thankful for this Thanksgiving with answers ranging from "food" to "my dad" to "God."

A couple of kindergarten classes had the feasts on Friday, just before taking a weeklong break from school for the holiday.

The second and third grade classes of Dayna Boyd and Kristen Alves, meanwhile, gathered together again this year to share a feast, a store bought traditional turkey and all the trimmings meal. Each student brought in a few dollars to cover the cost of the meal, which served as their lunch on Friday and included turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and biscuits.

"I like the biscuit and the butter," said third grader Jayde Larsen.

Fellow third grader Cortney Boyd listed the turkey as her favorite part of the meal.

Classmates Yesenia Calderon and Esmeralda Soto were already planning ahead to the actual turkey day on Thursday.

"I'm going to my grandma's house, she lives close by," said Calderon. "I like the eating."

Soto likewise will spend Thanksgiving Day with family.

"We're going to go to my cousin's house to do a feast," she said.

Gonzalo Mancilla said he was looking forward to visiting cousins for the holiday as well.

"My favorite part is eating lunch with all the people," offered second grader Georgina Gallo. "The Pilgrims were special because they picked the place to be."

Teachers use the Thanksgiving holiday to provide a living history lesson for students, as they learn about the first feast and how the Pilgrims and Indians worked together in the new home for the Pilgrims.

For Austin Terra, a third grader enjoying the feast on Friday, the message was pretty simple.

"I'm thankful for my food," he said.