Feast fit for a first-grader

Joanne Smith’s class holds annual luncheon to give thanks
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Thanksgiving came early for one Rocklin Elementary class as Joanne Smith’s first-graders put on a pre-Thanksgiving feast for their families last Friday. Like serving turkey on Thanksgiving, it’s become a tradition for Smith’s class, one that has carried on for more than 10 years, she said. “We have so much to be thankful for,” Smith said. “It grew into a feast.” The lunch included ham and turkey, side dishes of mashed and sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls and salad and pumpkin and apple pies for dessert – all either donated from local businesses or made by the parents. Dawn Zick, a parent and coordinator of the event with Josanna Hansen, said the luncheon cost less than $50 and was well worth it. “It’s really neat because there are a lot of families that can’t afford it (a big Thanksgiving meal),” Zick said. Zick said that with Hansen, they visited businesses in the community and received donations and gift certificates from Raley’s in Loomis and Longs and Safeway on Granite Drive in Rocklin. But it wasn’t just about the food for these first-graders. The students put on a pageant for their guests, reflecting what they’ve been taught about the holiday. “I think it’s a good opportunity for the kids to learn about Thanksgiving,” said Shawna Merkle, whose daughter Kylie is in Smith’s class. Merkle said that kids understand giving thanks, but putting on the feast for their families gives them a real taste of it. “It’s a great opportunity to get to experience that,” she said. Set inside the Clarke Dominguez Memorial Gymnasium on campus, the students took the stage and presented poems, the history of the first Thanksgiving, songs, dance and each had the opportunity to share what they’re thankful for. “I’m thankful for my family because they love me,” first-grader Kristy Baptista said. Students’ parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles were invited, as well as some of the school’s “very important people,” Smith said. For Smith, one of the reasons she’s kept the feast going for more than a decade is because her class comes together to give thanks. “It’s such bonding for our class and for our students’ families,” she said. “That’s what touches my heart.”