Education column

When the word "Thanksgiving" is uttered around the school district, it is sometimes accompanied by a softening of tone or a sigh; sometimes there's a distant gaze. I heard quite a variety of reactions recently. Several teachers loved getting to go "home" with their kids to older parents, where they get to feel like a kid again, as they help older generations prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Some were that older generation, eagerly anticipating their grown kids and grandkids coming for the holiday. Some were worried they hadn't taken the turkey out of the freezer soon enough for it to thaw in time for Thanksgiving! Some were eagerly thinking of the delicious rest they could enjoy and relief that students, too, would be getting a much-needed break. And, of course…delectable foods…turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and the rest.

Thinking of food brings to mind our remarkable CMS Food Services, headed up by Paul Klein, and the delicious foods they serve our students. As they do every year, Thanksgiving dinner was served at all school sites, kindergarten through 12th grade. Klein took time recently to share some other things Food Services are doing. A number of our school sites, who fit the criteria, are participating in the "Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program" sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a federal program designed to expose kids to fresh fruits and vegetables that they may not ordinarily encounter, including exotic items from all over the world (http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/).

Klein explained, "There is no cost at our end, just extra efforts from Food Service staff who are always willing to go above and beyond for the kids. Each week we provide the schools with informational sheets that have descriptions and a history of the item, which many of the teachers tie in with their lessons. The foods are served three times a week, and the reception has been very good." There are rambutans, Kiwano melons, guava, veggie sweet peppers, pummelos, and more.

Aside from food, Thanksgiving also softens hearts and prompts us to think of others, too, especially those struggling. Many of our schools use this time of year as an opportunity to teach character building and community service, through putting together gift baskets of turkeys and fixings.

One such example is Lockwood Elementary, whose principal, Deborah Westbrook, shared the activities taking place. AmVets No. 14 (American Veterans), with Johnny Ulibarri, organizing the efforts, donated 30 turkeys. The wives of the 318th Special Ops Squadron (one of whom is Heather Chauret, second grade teacher at Lockwood), plus other teachers and community members supplied the rest of the meals, with students decorating the gift bags to provide for families in need.

Just in case you need a turkey recipe, kindergartners are always willing to help out. Students of Dianna Boatman, Cameo kindergarten teacher, offered help in cooking a turkey: "Take it out of the bag and cook it in the oven for seven minutes…but on HOT! Then carve it into pieces."

All set! Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at : cindy.kleyn-kennedy @clovis-schools.org

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