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Nettle Creek students celebrate own Thanksgiving meal

Keaton Cryder – or “Chef Keaton” – said he wants to hunt and cook his own turkey this Thanksgiving.

“My turkey will weigh 300 pounds and I will cook it at 540 degrees for five hours,” wrote Keaton, a second-grade student at Nettle Creek Elementary.

Keaton was one of many kindergarten through third-grade students who participated Tuesday in Nettle Creek’s eighth annual Thanksgiving feast. Students made their own paper costumes and dressed as pilgrims, Native Americans or turkeys for the event, which was in Nettle Creek’s gymnasium.

“At the beginning of the November, they pick their own Indian name and then the headband they make says their Indian name,” said Erica Doerfler, second-grade teacher at Nettle Creek.

As part of the event, the second-grade students wrote about how they would cook their own Thanksgiving meal and who they would invite. Doerfler compiled the children’s responses into a book, complete with pictures of the students in their costumes.

“They’re just really funny because the kids don’t know how to cook it, temperature-wise, or how big a turkey actually is,” Doerfler said.

Kindergarden teacher Marissa Darlington said Nettle Creek took the idea for the event from White Oak Elementary, which holds a similar Thanksgiving meal.

The feast was held during the children’s regular lunch period, but the food was cooked and provided by the students’ parents. The children were treated to homemade mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, stuffing, casseroles, corn and a turkey, among other foods.

Parents who volunteered were assigned to bring certain dishes.

“Last year I had to make the turkey, which was a lot of pressure,” said Jen Gross, mother of first-grade student Kohen Gross. “This year I just made the gravy so that was kind of nice.”

Parents came to the event to help serve, set up and clean up after the feast. For many parents, this was not their first year participating.

“This is my fourth year bringing food,” said mother Jill Vinachi. “The kids get so excited for this – it’s great.”

All the kindergarden through third-grade students shared the same long table, which was decorated with turkeys and laminated place mats the students made for the meal.

“This school tends to be more like a little family since we’re so little,” mother Nicki Smith said.

“Bigger schools don’t tend to do stuff like this. This makes them feel like they are a family and they should be helpful and good to each other.”

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