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'Pilgrims and Indians'
Hawthorne students re-create first Thanksgiving feast

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

About 160 "pilgrims" and "Indians" gathered on Nov. 20, for a re-creation of the first Thanksgiving feast with all of the holiday's traditional foods -- turkey, rolls, carrots, popcorn, and Juicy Juice.

These pilgrims and Indians were kindergartners at Hawthorne Elementary School. They re-created the first Thanksgiving feast as the culmination of a social studies lesson on the history of Thanksgiving.

Long, orange pieces of construction paper stretched along the floor in the school's kindergarten hallway. On each side of the "tablecloth" sat the "pilgrims" and "Indians" with their food.

"We talk to the kids about the Indians and the pilgrims and why we celebrate this holiday," said Kyndria Lofton, the kindergarten chairperson at Hawthorne. "The kids enjoy making the costumes, and then we end the lesson with this feast. We do this every year, but with some of the changes in the curriculum, we weren't sure if we'd be able to do it anymore.

"However, Thanksgiving is one of the holidays discussed in our textbook," she explained.

The food for the feast is donated by the parents of the students in all eight kindergarten classes, said Lofton. In addition to the turkey, rolls, carrots, popcorn and juice, the students also had cheese, grapes and candy corn to eat.

Some of the students were dressed as pilgrims, while others came as Indians, and they were intermingled, so as to create camaraderie between the two groups.

"I played an Indian because I had never heard of pilgrims before, just the Indians," said Jorah Scott, 5, who wore a headdress featuring yellow, green and orange construction-paper feathers.

However, Brannen Hunt, 6, knew about pilgrims, and decided to play one because he admired what they did by sailing to Plymouth Rock in the Mayflower in 1620. "I like what they do," he said. "They got in a boat ... and sailed somewhere."

Ashley Milessi, 6, wore a bonnet with little people drawn on it, so she could be a female pilgrim. "I wanted to dress up like a girl," she said.

The youngsters said they also learned that Thanksgiving is a time when people give thanks for the people and things in their lives. "I'm thankful for my grandparents still being alive, and that I have the support of my parents and teachers," said Chinyere Atitedi, 5.

"I'm thankful for my mommy, because I love her so much," added Eanna Walker, 5, who was sitting next to Atitedi.