Jeanie Jodoin wiggled in her seat, readjusting her paper bonnet and the large white collar attached to her dress. It was time for the Thanksgiving feast, and the 6-year-old needed optimum mobility.
"It'shard to eat with this on," Jeanie said while scooping up a spoonful of soup, careful not to drip any on her pilgrim garb.
Eight tables lined a school corridor at West Meade Elementary yesterday, as 65 first-graders prepared to eat the holiday feast they had written about and discussed in class for the last few days.
Innovation was the word as students admired their costumes. Some sported brown paper bags for Indian vests and headdresses made of construction paper. Others wore white bonnets with string ties under the chin orblack Pilgrim hats.
As they watched the end of "The Mouse on the Mayflower" video, first-grade teacher Cathy Dwarshuis reminded students of their discussions on table manners. Parents like Janice Fewlassand O. C. Holloway helped serve the menu created by students, which included apple sauce, corn bread muffins, pumpkin pie, popcorn, applejuice and a special batch of friendship soup.
Each student brought an ingredient -- potatoes, celery, carrots, turkey or corn -- for the soup, based on what would have been available on the first Thanksgiving.
Six-year-old Ashley Theado fiddled with her bonnet, then peered at her soup to look for the potatoes she contributed.
"We're having the first Thanksgiving, like the Pilgrims," Ashley said. "The best part is eating it. It's important that we have Thanksgiving. I'mthankful for my family."
The long cafeteria tables were decoratedwith turkeys made from pine cones and paper plates. The walls were draped with messages of thanks from the students, including:
* "I am thankful for school, because you learn there" -- Jeanie Jodoin, 6.
* "I am thankful for mom and dad, because they read a book to me" -- Michael Johnson, 6.
* "I am thankful for hospitals, because they make you better" -- Jillian Gilbert-Wason, 6.
* "I am thankful for the Christmas tree, because it makes me so happy" -- Francisco Davis, 6.
Once seated and served, students were asked to observe a moment of silence to consider that for which they should be thankful.
As part of their Thanksgiving observance, students learned how to share with those who are different. Special education teacher Patti Gugliotta's 11 students were invited to join in.
"It's good for our kids, socially," Gugliotta said of her students. "They feel like partof the program and are blending in. I'm proud of them."
Other invited guests included Bernie Winn, a retired Veterans
Administration employee who was invited by 6-year-old Jeremy Rice. Winn has been working with the student as a mentor and couldn't help getting caught up in the excitement after Jeremy gave him a personal tour of the feast preparations.
"I'm in twice a week, an hour each day," Winn said. "He showed me the work he's been doing. I'm there if he needs someone to talk to."
The enticing aroma and air of excitement drifted down the hallways of the school, composed mostly of children from military families.
Sgt. Craig Medd hustled from student to student, filling their requests for more popcorn, juice and soup.
"I think it's great," Medd said. "They prepared it yesterday and are eating it today and having lots of fun."
But Craig Jr. could not resist offering his opinion.
"I think, 'Let's party!' "