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Issue 667

11/21/2013 at 6:24pm

Happy ThanksgivingBeach Kids Share Thanksgiving Thoughts

The Thanksgiving Holiday is all about family, food and sharing a meal of thanks with those we love. Those traditions certainly aren’t lost on the island’s elementary students or the faculty and staff at their school.

Every year, Principal Larry Wood and his team at Fort Myers Beach Elementary celebrate the holiday early with a special Thanksgiving lunch, inviting the parents and family to join students at the lunch table. This year, the Island Sand Paper caught up with the students and their families during two busy lunch periods on Wednesday. We asked the students what they were most thankful for. As a follow-up question, for those who were having difficulty answering, we asked their favorite part of Thanksgiving.

"Parents often join kids here for lunch and they are always welcome,” said Principal Wood. Wednesday was special, however, in that turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy and cranberry sauce were on the holiday menu.

Jasmine Page, a student in Mrs. Cribbs’ kindergarten class, was seated with her mom and a friend and classmate, Danni Leonard, at a picnic table under the oak trees in the school’s atrium. As they enjoyed their turkey dinner in the perfect November weather under the shade of the trees, Jasmine told us that she was most thankful for "My mom, my dad and Tinker. That’s my cat.” Danni simply answered, "My mom.”

Michael Sandell, another of Ms. Cribbs’ kindergarteners, said he "loves the decorating” for Thanksgiving. His father, who was seated with him at a picnic table, added, "He loves Tom the Turkey, especially.” Classmate Kylie Richard, also enjoying a meal with her mom, Tina, enthusiastically said, "Turkey.”

Inside the lunchroom, other kindergartners were seated, some with parents, enjoying the cafeteria prepared meal or something from home. Tyler Frazier, whose mom and dad both made the lunch date, thought about the question as he munched on a mouthful of pumpkin pie. Politely swallowing his pie, wiping his mouth and taking a swig of water before answering, Tyler first said "Punkin pie.” Later, he approached asking if he could please change his answer to "Mrs. Cribbs.”

Matthew Sibley, flanked by his guests, father Ian Sibley and friend Belinda Enright, was very quiet and shy about answering. After a little coaxing by his dad, Matthew bashfully answered, "Family.” He told us that he doesn’t care much for turkey and will be opting for spaghetti next Thursday, instead.

Madison Power said she is thankful "for my whole family.” To her right, a joke telling Zachary Johnston had to finish his favorite holiday-themed knock-knock joke before answering. "Knock, knock” he said. A parent seated nearby responded with the obligatory "Who’s there?,” to which Zachary answered, "Bread,” followed by "The Gingerbread Man.” After slapping the table with laughter, he was able to tell us that he’s most thankful for his brother.

Darren Ward, another kindergartener, said he is thankful for "my cats and my dog,” after which he explained there are two and one, respectively. When asked if they get to partake in the Thanksgiving turkey, he said, "Yes…and the bones.” Alena Hunt, a classmate of Darren’s, answered that she is most thankful for "my whole family.”

As the first lunch period expired and the second wave came, the cafeteria was flooded with hungry second and third graders, plus a bevy of parents. Zoe Dove, a third grader and one of the first in line, told us she is thankful for "my aunt, Jaylynne, and my mom.” After her mom, Heather Edelbeck, made her way through the adult line, served by Mr. Cribbs, Principal Wood and Michael Montano, she joined Zoe outside under the oaks for a turkey dinner that she said "was very good. Like a return to my old school cafeteria.”

Tatum Duffy, a second grader in Mrs. Catlett’s class, was eager to be interviewed, claiming, "I am very famous.” Her classmate Lydia Marchese stood anxiously waiting to echo Tatum’s answers. Both told us they were most thankful for their family, their stuff and their house. Lydia added as she was hurried into the food line by a staff member, "I am very famous, too.”

Aaron James, a third grader whose family took up an entire lunchroom table, said he was thankful for "a lot.” When asked if it was special to have so many family members present—an adult brother, his parents and grandparents—he agreed. He just wished his older brother who is in the Navy and stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, could be here.

Michael Dooley, a third grader, pointed to his grandmother seated at the picnic table beside him, saying he was most thankful for "my Nannie.”

Katie Weber, a second grader from Ms. Rockwell’s class, said she was thankful for her home, her clothing and her pets.

Lily Spence-McGarry, another of Ms. Catlett’s second graders, was flanked by her sister and her mother. She had just finished a cheese sandwich she had brought from home. Like Mr. Sibley, she doesn’t care much for the holiday bird. When asked what she was most thankful for, Lily answered with a big smile, "Food, family and fun times.”

Lily just about summed it up for the entire group of students with whom we spoke Wednesday, most of whom told us they are thankful for the ones they love, including their pets. Principal Wood said, "I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful kids and staff.”

On that note of gratitude, we left the students and their families to enjoy the tasty treats served up by the grateful staff at Beach Elementary. And from the Island Sand Paper family to you and yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Chris Doyle