Feast Helps Second-Graders Celebrate Thanksgiving


Jesus Munoz checks out a fellow classmate’s paper flower before finding his seat at one of the assigned tables during the second-grade Thanksgiving feast.

Jesus Munoz checks out a fellow classmate’s paper flower before finding his seat at one of the assigned tables during the second-grade Thanksgiving feast. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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The scent of the feast enticed the nose, the decorations tantalized the eyes, and children in headdresses scurried through the halls chattering on their way to eat stone soup.

The Thanksgiving celebration on Tuesday at Payson Elementary School (PES) marked the first time all second-graders in the district gathered to commemorate the holiday.

“We have done this at our separate schools, now we’re doing this all together. We’re finding as we share what we did at our other schools that we have a lot of commonalities in how we celebrate,” said Brianne DeWitt, a second-grade teacher who taught at Frontier Elementary School last year.

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One table of students, parents and friends already had their places and were waiting to begin eating.

The Thanksgiving holiday spirit permeated the school with sights and smells throughout.

Decorations on the walls and spaces drew the eye. Turkeys of all shapes, sizes and colors lay about. Students made some from pumpkins and gourds, others from paper and paints or glitter and feathers.

The delectable smells of the feast directed visiting parents and students down the hallway.

Arriving in the school’s cafeteria, every table overflowed with rows of second-graders festooned in either Native American headgear or Pilgrim hats and bonnets.

“There are eight second-grade classes here with 125 students,” said Sylvia Sandoval, another second-grade teacher.

Mothers and fathers of students interspersed themselves throughout the wriggling second-graders.

On the menu for everyone: stone soup, rolls, and a pumpkin dessert.

“My wife brought some ingredients for the soup,” said Mike Burket a parent from DeWitt’s class.

“I couldn’t do this without the parents,” said DeWitt.

The soup included corn, peas, tomatoes, onions, lentils, potatoes, turkey, seasonings — and stones. The soup actually served to illustrate the spirit of Thanksgiving — that of community and sharing.

Stone soup has a story behind it. In DeWitt’s class, she read the version by Ann McGovern.

McGovern tells the story of a young boy arriving in a town after a long day of travel.

Driven by hunger, he stops by the largest house believing the owner would have enough to share.

Yet to his dismay, the old woman who answers the door denies she has any extra food.

Undaunted, the young boy asks, “If you have no food — will you give me a stone?”

The old woman asks what can the boy do with a stone. The boy replies he can make soup.

In the process of showing the woman he can make soup with a stone, he asks the woman to help him cook the soup faster by adding vegetables, spices, soup bones and grains.

She agrees. Not only does she agree, but as the soup finishes she sets her table with her best settings to match the grandness of the soup.

Together, they share a soup made by working together.

The second-graders at PES not only made stone soup together, some of the classes made butter to share with the other classes. All the classes made their own pumpkin dessert. Sharing reinforced what the spirit of Thanksgiving truly means.

Sandoval’s class offered to share by reciting poems and singing songs to the second-graders.

Jasmine Foster from Mrs. Sandoval’s class had no fear about performing in front of 125 second-graders.

“I’m not shy,” she said.

Asked about what they thought of the day and learning about Thanksgiving, a few second-graders offered their thoughts.

“My favorite part was coming to the cafeteria and starting,” said Taylor Heape from Mrs. Beery’s class.

“My favorite part was dessert,” said Andrew William from Mrs. DeWitt’s class.

“(The Pilgrims) didn’t have much room on the Mayflower,” said Jaycee Jackson.

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