First graders feast in Kings Beach | SierraSun.com

First graders feast in Kings Beach

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunKings Beach Elementary first grader Guthrie digs into a cup of turkey soup during a Thanksgiving feast held at the school Tuesday.

KINGS BEACH “-Turkey soup and cornbread muffins were politely passed around the table as a large group of little Indians, pilgrims and turkeys celebrated the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Like the historical characters they resembled, the children displayed gracious manners and a compassion and understanding for what Thanksgiving meant to each of them.

As the children sang songs in three languages, shared food they made themselves, and reveled in Thanksgiving cheer, the hand-traced turkey on every homemade placemat was the only thing that reminded you they were in first grade.

On Tuesday afternoon, all 100 first-grade students of Kings Beach Elementary gathered outside their classrooms for the annual first grade Thanksgiving feast.

Preparation for the meal began in early November with history lessons about Thanksgiving. After learning the basics, the children were ready to get into the holiday spirit.

Whether it was picking and making their own Indian, turkey, or pilgrim costumes, learning songs about giving thanks in Spanish, English, and sign language, or preparing food in the classrooms before the meal, each student was involved and excited about the event.

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“A lot of the kids at this age have the compassion and understand how to share,” said first-grade teacher Beth Nordby. Before digging in, the children demonstrated how saying “thank you” knows no language barrier, singing and signing songs like “Thanks A Lot” and “Damos Gracias” while two students provided musical accompaniment with a xylophone and chimes.

Teachers, parents, and students dined on cornbread muffins, turkey soup, popcorn, applesauce, pumpkin pudding, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce throughout the feast. While most of the ingredients were supplied by parents and teachers, all the food was put together by the students.

As the children delighted in their holiday meals, many had thoughtful things to say bout what Thanksgiving meant to them.

“We need to celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks to everyone,” said first-grader Guthrie Ross.

“It’s about celebrating all the things your thankful for like your parents and the things that they give you” said student Skyler Muonio. According to some of the parents, it seemed many of the students had done a bit of homework in preparation for the feast.

Parent Sally Gardner said her son Jake had been practicing the songs at home and talking about Thanksgiving for the past week.

“They work really hard at it,” said Gardner. “I can’t wait to set the table with Jake’s place mat on Thanksgiving Day.”

While other grade levels at Kings Beach Elementary have similar Thanksgiving celebrations, the first grade is the only one to combine all their classes, which include English only, Spanish only, and two-way immersion bilingual classes.

While some of the first grade students may not have shared similar languages or customs, the Thanksgiving message they received was the same.

“It is hard for the kids to understand what’s not here and now,” said first-grade teacher Julie Miescke, “it’s good for them to learn how times were different.”

As the children filtered back to their classrooms and the feast was being cleaned up, many of the parents shared how pleased they were with the meal and how much the children enjoyed it.

“The food was great,” said parent Debbie Howle. “That usually works to keep the kids behaved.”