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EYE ON EDUCATION: Kindergarteners celebrate ‘Friendsgiving’

November 28, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - "Happy Friendsgiving!"

The voices of more than a dozen young students joined together as Lake Placid Elementary School kindergarten teacher Pat Uliva stood before them, a conductor before a choir.

With hands raised and a gentle call, Uliva captured the attention of Lake Placid's kindergarteners and asked them to repeat the refrain as they dug into plates filled with classic Thanksgiving food on Friday, Nov. 22.

Article Photos

Teacher’s assistant Brianna Currier spoons out cranberry sauce for Lake Placid Elementary School kindergartener Taika Mzese during the class’s Friendsgiving meal on Friday, Nov. 22.
(News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

"I want you to look at someone sitting next to you or in front of you and tell them you're happy to be their new friend," she said.

Small heads topped with colorful paper turkey hats turned to one another as a din of comments arose. Then, the sound of scraping forks against plastic plates.

This was the latest iteration of "Friendsgiving," an event that brought together kindergarteners and three select middle school students for a meal together at the elementary school. According to kindergarten teacher Megann Monahan, Friendsgiving is designed to give kids a Thanksgiving experience who may not otherwise have one, while promoting a positive classroom culture and encouraging students to be kind to one another. Teachers also encouraged students to sit next to someone new.

The middle schoolers - Ryder Gagnon, Austin Bolinsky and Chris Hathaway - were invited to participate because they had shown exemplary kindness and had worked hard this school year, Monahan said.

The school district contributed to the cost of the food, and teachers supplied the rest, according to Monahan. At the start of the meal, the adults formed a line and doled out spoonfuls of stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and turkey.

Kindergartener Eloise Ruttan, 6, said with a grin that the food was "practically perfect."

She said what she liked best about Friendsgiving was the opportunity to "give people stuff" like "special Thanksgiving food."

Asked what she's most thankful for this year, Ruttan said she's grateful for her new journal and the opportunity to learn how to write. She spoke about studying ancient Native American pictographs in class and said she's been replicating them in her journal recently.

The class's Friendsgiving meal capped off a week of Thanksgiving-themed activities. This year, the students made decorations for display at Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid, a local senior care facility, and made placemats.



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