Koontz celebrates Thanksgiving
By Steve Huffman
Indians and pilgrims sat down with one another Tuesday at Koontz Elementary for an early Thanksgiving celebration.
Admittedly, representatives of both groups were of the miniature variety.
The Indians and pilgrims are students in Faith Collins’ kindergarten class. For the fourth consecutive year, Collins led students in “Thanksgiving Celebration Days,” an event where children dress as those who got together hundreds of years ago at the first-ever turkey-day chowdown.
“It’s basically a day in the life of the Indians and pilgrims,” Collins said. “It’s a lot more fun than just sitting down and reading a book to them.”
Plenty of work went into staging the event. Collins has for years been collecting outfits for the children. They had the choice of dressing as either an Indian or a pilgrim.
“Goodwill is a wonderful thing,” Collins said, laughing as she referred to the store where she purchased many of the clothes.
It wasn’t just clothing that marked the celebration.
Also constructed in the classroom was a reproduction of a Native American village that included a tepee, a fire pit, a garden and a weaving frame.
In the reproduction of the settlers’ camp was everything from a smoke house to a tent and even a one-room schoolhouse.
Children weaned on video games got to participate in long-forgotten activities like corn cob darts and dream catchers. They mingled about, obviously having a good time.
“It’s something they really enjoy,” said Donita Dunlap, Collins’ teaching assistant. “They really get into it.”
Collins said she got the idea for Thanksgiving Celebration Days after she and her family visited the historic Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Collins noted that the guides at Jamestown dress as the people who founded the settlement dressed.
“I said, ‘We’ve got to do that in my class,’ ” Collins said.
It has turned out well.
Collins said that while working with the students, she demonstrated the effort that goes into smoking meat or weaving on a loom.
“I say, ‘Boy, it sure would be fun to have a Wal-Mart or a grocery story nearby,’ ” Collins said, referring to luxuries to which the pilgrims and Indians weren’t accustomed.
Collins said the lesson also introduced students to the basics of the study of geography.
“Yeah, they’re 5 and do they get the meaning of the word, ‘geography’?” she asked. “Probably not, but it lays a foundation.”
Collins said the enthusiasm with which her charges tackled the project makes teaching worthwhile.
“Just look at them,” she said, stepping back and absorbing all the excited chatter taking place around her. “They’re having the time of their lives.”