Local schools celebrate Thanksgiving in various ways

It’s not what’s on the plate that matters.

It’s who you are sharing the meal with and being thankful for them and the food.

Leading up to Thanksgiving this year, several Jackson County teachers came up with activities that allowed students to be creative and spend time together.

On Nov. 17, the five students in Nancy Manuel’s culinary 1 class at Brownstown Central High School served a meal for guests they had an opportunity to invite.

After planning a menu, investigating recipes and preparing grocery items, they used their time management skills to serve the meal.

It consisted of a variety of appetizers, baked ham, pot roast, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, corn, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes with sauerkraut and bacon, rolls and pumpkin and apple pies.

“Our guests were ‘stuffed,’ and our students were very happy with their culinary accomplishments,” Manuel said.

The recipes chosen by the students were brought from home, including Chance Fish’s special mashed potatoes that’s a popular dish where his mother is from, Holland.

“People just raved about that. They really loved it,” Manuel said.

The students wanted to do an activity where they could work together and experience being in the kitchen, and their teacher praised their efforts.

“They were so proud, but I’m here to tell you, the day before, they were exhausted, and the day after, they were exhausted, but it was all good,” Manuel said.

On Monday, the students wrote a summary about their experience.

“When we do something the next time, I think it’s probably going to be more of a community thing if we can go in that direction,” Manuel said. “What I want to do, if we were a little more mobile with that number, we could actually get more field trips and things like that.”

Manuel’s other classes, including nutrition 1, nutrition 2 and introduction to culinary and hospitality, worked in teams to create a cheeseball that resembled a turkey.

They researched recipes and had to choose between sweet and savory and then picked a type of cracker to go with their cheeseball.

Each class had teams of two or three students combining to make six cheeseballs, and staff members came in throughout the day to taste them and pick their favorites. Manuel gave the winning team in each class a bag of chocolates.

“They did really well,” she said. “I just try to make it meaningful, fun, get them in the kitchen.”

Freshmen Lukas Shumaker and Floyd Davis had fun with the class assignment. They put green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and dried beef in their cheeseball. Then they fried hickory-smoked bacon and broke it up to resemble feathers, eyes and mouth.

“The only cheeseball I’ve ever had has been a savory flavor, and that’s just what I’ve known to make,” Shumaker said. “I’ve gotten to make a few. It’s nice to have made it again.”

Davis, on the other hand, said it was his first time making a cheeseball.

“It was pretty easy,” he said.

At Seymour-Redding Elementary School on Tuesday, Rhiannon Castetter and her fourth-graders had a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

All month, she said they have been working on gratitude, and each day, they worked on a Google Slides prompt about being grateful for something.

“That’s what Thanksgiving is all about is sharing food with your family and being able to reflect on what you’re thankful for,” Castetter said.

On Tuesday, they arranged their desks in a U shape in the classroom and watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and then celebrated as a family with everything Charlie Brown and the Peanuts kids ate for their dinner in the movie. Castetter served pretzels, jellybeans, popcorn, toast and ice cream.

“Just like Charlie Brown in ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,’ we want to make sure that we’re sharing a meal with friends,” she said.

As the students ate at their desks, Castetter went around the room asking them what they are thankful for. The responses included family, friends, classmates, a great teacher, dogs, wrestling, mother, parents, brother, house and life.

“I don’t get to spend Thanksgiving with the boys this year,” Castetter said, referring to her two sons who are in the military. “You all get to be my kids for Thanksgiving, so I’m thankful for today that I get to share my Thanksgiving meal with you.”

Finally, Castetter encouraged the kids to have conversations about Thanksgiving family traditions and their favorite Thanksgiving food.

“Just talk about absolutely anything and enjoy conversation with your friends before we have a few days off,” she told her students.

At Crothersville Elementary School on Tuesday, first grade teachers Ashley Spicer and Karra Hercamp combined their classes so they could all be together for Thanksgiving.

The menu for the feast included turkey tacos, and throughout the day, they completed Thanksgiving stations, including making log cabins out of pretzels and hunting for animal pictures around the classroom.