Preschoolers celebrate ‘Friendsgiving’ at Christina Early Education Center
With tables set and everyone gathered together, servings of stuffing, gravy and turkey were passed around the cafeteria Tuesday afternoon at the Christina Early Education Center for the annual Friendsgiving celebration.
“We love activities like that where ever ybody just comes together,” Principal Rebecca Ryan said.
This is Friendsgiving’s ninth iteration, and this year it has grown to include the afternoon students, who enjoyed a Thanksgivingstyle meal when they arrived at 1:15 p.m. So Tuesday, the school served all 450 of the kids from various backgrounds who attend CEEC.
The celebration’s origins began relatively humble, Ryan explained. The first year they came together, they rolled out a huge piece of paper and sat on the floor upstairs, with food that the teachers had prepared.
Eventually, they moved to the cafeteria, where they reorganized the tables to form a circle around the room like a long dinner table.
Planning for Friendsgiving began in September, where the school coordinated the cafeteria staff and custodians to get ready for the celebration.
Beyond a fun themed lunch, and the chance to wear brightly colored accessories decorated to look like turkeys or pilgrim hats, there are benefits to having the school come together in this way, Ryan explained.
“Social-emotional learning is really big with preschoolers,” Ryan said. “This is the age where we’re teaching them to be friends, and share, and take turns, and all those things.”
In a traditional lunch – not just Friendsgiving – Ryan noted that they eat family-style, with the goal that the students themselves will serve, pass and learn meal etiquette by the end of the year. Friendsgiving also allows the school to introduce the students to different foods.
“We just try to teach that at this age; it’s such an impressionable age,” she said. “So much of what we hit on as part of our curriculum is social-emotional learning.”
In addition to bringing ever yone together as friends and trying new foods, Ryan said the school also partners with local organizations to distribute food to families in need.
This year, the school partnered with Word of Life Christian Center to distribute 30 turkey baskets to families at the school. The baskets included a turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, gravy and more.
“That was pretty amazing, too,” she said.
Within the classrooms, in the time leading up the holiday, teachers spent time reading Thanksgiving stories and teaching what the first Thanksgiving was all about. As a school, there is a larger focus on the idea of the “friends part of it,” Ryan said.
“That’s why we call it Friendsgiving,” she said. “We also have many students within our school with many different beliefs. So all might not necessarily celebrate Thanksgiving, but we can all be friends.”
The Christina Early Education Center brought together all of its students for a Friendsgiving meal Tuesday.
Students were able to enjoy a turkey lunch, with cranberries, gravy and stuffing with their classmates.
The Friendsgiving celebration at the Christina Early Education Center is in its ninth year.