By Curt Yeomans
More than 150 kindergartners at Hawthorne Elementary School re-created the first Thanksgiving, with pilgrim and "Indian" costumes, and meals consisting of turkey sandwiches, milk, apples, fruit and corn chips on Thursday.
The annual Thanksgiving lunch was the culmination a week-long study of the holiday. Throughout the week, the youths studied the story of how the pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, Mass., from England in 1620, and how the Native Americans living in the area at the time helped the newcomers make it through their first winter in the new world.
On Thursday, the youngsters played dress-up, with some of the children becoming Pilgrims, and others becoming "Indians" for a half-hour feast.
"It's part of the curriculum," said kindergarten teacher Kyndria Lofton, the organizer of the feast. "Under the Georgia Performance Standards [curriculum], Thanksgiving is one of the holidays the students learn about. It involves explaining to the students about why we celebrate Thanksgiving ... It's something we can do, and the kids enjoy it every year. It's not just a holiday for the kids. They get excited about the costumes as well."
The feast took place in Hawthorne's gymnasium, with long stretches of orange, butcher paper rolled out as a "table cloth" for each class. Each student had a place mat he or she had made in class.
Lofton said a lot of students like dressing up as "Indians," because "they liked the way they helped people."
"Indian" Kyle Morant, 5, said he liked the "Indians'" role in the story of the first Thanksgiving, because "they told them how to survive through the winter, and how to find food in the forest."
"Pilgrim" Kelsey Whitmire, 6, said she enjoyed the re-created feast, because she "liked the part when we ate together, and I liked the blessing where we said what we are thankful for. You know what I'm thankful for? My kitty, Bip Bip!"
The kindergartners' re-creation of the first Thanksgiving was not the only way Hawthorne celebrated the holiday, however. School Guidance Counselor Katrina Pittman said she put out a collection jar at the entrance to the school every morning, from Nov. 11, to this past Wednesday. Students, parents and school employees put money into the jar to help needy families at the school, she said.
"We decided that we would do a Thanksgiving community service project, and keep it local and take care of our Hawthorne families," Pittman said. "One parent donated two baskets filled with thanksgiving foods, such as turkeys, stuffing, cranberry sauce and red velvet cake, and through the collection jar, we raised $230.62."