SPS students celebrate tradition of giving thanks

Nov. 22, 2012 @ 12:49 AM

Forty kindergarten and first-grade students at Sevierville Primary School (SPS) gathered in Ellen Perkins' and Dee Dee Trentham's conjoining classrooms on Tuesday to celebrate a tradition that's older than this country.

The original Thanksgiving feast is commonly dated back to a 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Mass., following the Pilgrims' first harvest in the New World. The Native Americans assisted the Pilgrims in farming, and the celebration at SPS had some assistance as well.

"This is our annual feast, and the parents provide all the turkey and the ham and the goodies," first-grade teacher Trentham said. "We have a lot of parent support, and that makes it possible for us to do this."

Parents were also welcome to participate in the feast alongside their children, who chose whether to come to class dressed as a Pilgrim or a Native American.

Most of the children dressed up as Native Americans, especially the boys because, as Trentham noted, they like to wear the headdress of feathers.

"They love to dress up at this age, so it's really fun," Trentham said. "We talked about the different kinds of clothing the Pilgrims wore, and the boys dressed a Pilgrim boy and the girls dressed a Pilgrim girl in their outfits."

Trentham and Perkins, who were both dressed in traditional Pilgrim garb, have been tailoring recent curriculum to the history of Thanksgiving and early America.

"We've been reading books and watching some film, and we took a field trip to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, where they talked about life long ago," Trentham said. "So this is kind of the culminating activity at the end of our study.

"We just really like to put the focus on remembering the Pilgrims and Native Americans, and it really brings the story alive for the kids."

Parents signed up for what they wanted to bring, and the feast included ham, mashed potatoes, green beens, stuffing, pumpkin pies and, of course, turkey.

"I was up at 5:30 this morning cooking macaroni," Trentham said.

Before the meal, several students said blessings to give thanks for the food, but they spoke quickly and kept their blessings short.

"The kids are always so excited," Trentham said. "They can't wait."