PELHAM — It wasn’t New England in 1621, and the weather certainly wasn’t indicative of an up-and-coming “harsh” winter, but there were pilgrims and Indians everywhere on campus at St. Patrick School last week for the annual Harvest Feast.
Second- and third-graders performed their traditional re-enactment of the first Thanksgiving.
The second grade class, dressed as pilgrims and led by their teacher, Holly Donovan, greeted the third-grade Indians as they arrived at the banks of Beaver Brook. A parade of canoes transported the Indian-garbed third-graders down the river as escorted by their teacher, Gael Ouellette. The canoes were piloted by coach Aaron Dumont and a host of volunteer parents.
The day’s events culminated into a Thanksgiving dinner at the Parish Center. The menu, of course, included turkey and cornbread.
Principal Hank Golec, in full headdress, led the Indians from shore as they were met by the pilgrims in the forest which runs parallel to the school’s soccer field. Golec believes that the curriculum should be augmented with “real life” connections such as this, the Harvest Feast, and he encourages teachers to augment the curriculum with follow-up field trips that can be directly tied to the syllabus.
“This annual event is an opportunity for students to learn about the Pilgrims’ feast in 1621,” said Donavan, who believes tthe re-enactment enhances the learning experience.
“Seeing the children’s enthusiasm grow makes it worthwhile,” Ouellette said of her tribal third-graders.
Because the school is situated on the banks of Beaver Brook, a tributary of the Merrimack River, an outdoor environmental classroom gets ample use from various SPS classes. This is one classroom where students learn more about interaction with nature through writing, science and art activities.