Nearly 300 students at Jacobs Primary School gathered at a long table set for fine dining Friday to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. It was an effort to further the schools culture of family, and based on the students reactions, its an event likely to be repeated. (Photo by Randy Roberts)


A new tradition, built on turkey, pumpkin pie and a warm feeling of togetherness, was introduced at Jacobs Primary School on Friday.

There, the students gathered for a proper Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, veggies, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, rolls, Jell-O squares, muffins and pumpkin pie. The spread was served up on real dinner plates and silverware (no paper plates or plastic forks here), with milk poured from cartons into clear glasses. Tables, draped in linens, were adorned with ceramic pumpkins and flickering, battery-powered candles. Classical music filled the air.

Many of the nearly 300 kindergarten through third-grade students were outfitted in their Sunday school dresses and suits, some accessorized with pilgrim hats and bonnets crafted from paper. They filed into the main school hallway and took a seat at what was essentially one long table, each place set with a placemat created by a fellow schoolmate detailing what they were thankful for.

Second-grader Evan Fenstermaker was enjoying the meal — “especially the Jell-O.” On his placemat, he’d written that he was thankful for “life, family, cars.”

Trinity Gorman, also in second grade, gave thanks for “my family, my friends, my shelter, my pets” on her placemat. She said her favorite part of the meal was the mashed potatoes and gravy and said, overall, the feast was a great event that was worth repeating.

“I really like it. I think we should do it again next year,” Trinity said.

School principal Krista Miller agreed: “I’m thinking that we have kicked off a new tradition today.”

Miller said leading up to the big feast, classroom discussions had focused on things like manners and gratefulness. She noticed many of the students were sitting up straighter and using their best table manners.

The day’s festivities were organized by second-grade teacher Jenna Smith in an effort to promote an authentic feeling of warmth and family.

“With our families, a lot of them don’t have the traditional Thanksgiving meal. So we decided it would be nice, because we always preach that we’re a family, to have a big meal together,” Smith said.

The dinner was made possible by donations from Gateway Church, College First Church of God, Millstream, Raise the Bar and Jacobs’ own school staff.

Tracy Aukerman, a second-grade teacher, said the school had committed to serving real turkey and pumpkin pie, which some of the students had never tasted before. She said the school works hard to cultivate a feeling of family and to create memories that will last far beyond the requirements of standardized testing.

“We call ourselves a Jacobs family for a reason,” she said.

Third-grader Avah Enright, who was also a fan of the mashed potatoes and thought the fine-dining presentation was a nice touch, couldn’t agree more: “I think it’s good that we get to spend time with our Jacobs family.”

Griteman: 419-427-8477
Send an E-mail to Brenna Griteman
Twitter: @BrennaGriteman