Thanksgiving at the Sullivans: Non-traditional learning!
Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday. Thanksgiving at the Sullivans School on board Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, (FLEACT) provides uniquely non-traditional learning opportunities due to the diverse population that makes up its student body. The holiday offers chances for cultural learning beyond the traditional history lessons and Sullivans’ teachers relish the opportunity to incorporate this diversity into their lessons.
Parents too, are brought into the school to view plays, watch videos, see costumes and share their own cultural heritage during the culminating potluck dinner attended and enjoyed by all. Mothers and fathers enjoyed coming together and help their children learn. Over 30 different classes held potluck Thanksgiving dinners to climax their week of learning.
In Rory Vallis’ first grade class, students studied the history of the event with a one week survey of Native Americans and a one week survey of Pilgrims. They read grade-appropriate books that highlighted the important facts about each group as they relate to Thanksgiving. Vallis collected the class's work in "lap-books" (a type of flip book) that helped them compare and contrast Native Americans and Pilgrims, and map the voyage from Europe to North America as well as list facts about the Mayflower and put the history of Thanksgiving in order.
Vallis stated, “It provides a great platform for kids to review the work after they've finished it, and to take home to share with their family over the holiday. We also recited a Thanksgiving poem (replete with bonnets and pilgrim hats) before our lunch.”
In Susan Davidson’s third grade class, students danced the Virginia Reel (under the direction of Beth Cruse, Sullivans music teacher). Students also wrote a “What I am Thankful For" project, recorded their voices as reading their story aloud and put together a movie which parents watched at the culminating potluck. Their potluck was culturally diverse with more turkey, more stuffing, more ham, and crab tempura, maki-sushi rolls, and chicken adobo on offer.
Molly McKenzie, Sullivans parent and Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) school store manager who was in attendance stated, “the unique blend of many different cultures brings parents into the schools and guarantees a wonderful opportunity for the kids, who you can see, even though they are all different, are all thankful for the same things.”
Breclyn Kriener, a parent whose child, Landon Kriener, is in Ms. Laura Nadeau’s third grade class described the potluck dinner as “a great opportunity to share with each other and to eat lots of different foods. “ A glance at the festive table in Nadeau’s classroom confirmed her observation as the traditional turkey was offered with a soy-ginger sauce as well as brown gravy. pancit and lumpia were on offer also, as well as a generous serving bowl filled with a spicy Thai beef salad.
All in all, parents, teachers and students enjoyed this unique opportunity to savor their own places in history as part of DoDea’s largest overseas elementary school, the Sullivans, writes another page in their Thanksgiving history.