By Curt Yeomans
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary School family -- consisting of the students, teachers, parents, staff members, administrators and community supporters -- gathered on Wednesday for the school's annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon.
The school also hosted a crafts fair, in which items made by students were sold to parents to raise money for the school.
Although Thanksgiving is not until Nov. 27, the school celebrated this week, since schools will be closed next week for the holiday.
"This is a time for us to share family time with the school's family," said Machelle Matthews, the school's principal. "We invited everybody who works with the school during the year to share Thanksgiving with us. They are all part of our family."
With the family theme in mind, several parents and students reflected on what family means to them between bites of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and chocolate cake. Many of them said Thanksgiving is the one time of year when their families try extra hard to be together, but they also said family means two things: Love and support.
"Family is very important to me ... The most important things in my life are my grandchildren and my daughter," said Shirley Floyd, a Riverdale resident, who has two granddaughters (second-grader Angel Brunner, 7, and first-grader Briana Smith, 6) at King Elementary. "Family means love and support. We support each other every day."
Patricia Dennis, whose son, Malik, 7, is a second-grader at the school, said it is very important for parents to come to the schools their children attend on a regular basis. She remembers how, when she was her son's age, she got excited every time her parents came to her school to have lunch with her.
"I think a lot of kids like seeing that support from their parents," she said. "You can see their faces light up when they see you at school."
Malik Dennis said he likes having his parents eating lunch with him at school since "[t]hey mean a lot to me because I love them very much."
Destiny Link, 7, another second-grader at the school, had triple support on Wednesday. She shared Thanksgiving lunch with her mother, Citara; her grandmother, Barbara, and her Godmother, Ernestine Jones.
"Family is all you have," said Jones. "However, when you have an extended family as well, you get involved with people who bring you extra joy."
Barbara Link said her family is always her top priority in life. As a supervisor in Atlanta's water department, she tries to preach that lesson to her employees. "I always stress to my employees the importance of family first," she said. "Your family should be the most important thing in your life."
However, Destiny had trouble explaining how much love she has for her biological and extended family members. It was not because she did not know the words to use, but rather her arms were not long enough. "I have a lot of love for my family," she said. "My love for them is as big as the world."