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Giving some latitude for gratitude during Thanksgiving event at John Kennedy Intermediate

By Joanne Beck


John Kennedy Intermediate School Principal Brian Sutton took a little extra time to get dressed Tuesday. He sported some fancy headgear: a whimsical cloth turkey of bright yellow, orange and red, with two legs dangling over Sutton’s ears. 

He briefed excited groups of students of the day’s events in between roast turkey, expressing gratitude and just having fun. 

“Today we actually have quite a few things happening,” he said to students gathered outside. “You’ll have a half hour to do all of the activities.”

Sutton and the school community, including parents and other family members, took those 30 minutes in each group of second, third and fourth-graders to enjoy the sunshine, mindfulness exercises, a soothing cup of hot chocolate, and each other.

There were stations for the kids to visit and perform activities, which included writing something they were thankful for on index cards. Teachers carved turkey for students to enjoy beforehand, followed by a Gratitude Walk, second grade Macy’s Day parade and reading aloud the index cards filled with Thanksgiving sentiments. A book drop provided opportunity for students to bring in and/or take a book to read during the upcoming break. 

A collection effort led by school counselor Eric Knapp motivated staff and students to donate enough food items so that a dozen Batavia City School District families would have a Thanksgiving dinner. Assisted by city police and fire department members, the meals were delivered later Tuesday. 

The day was focused on one central element, Sutton said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to reflect on what they’re thankful for, what they’re grateful for, and reflect on what’s important at this time of year,” he said. 



Top photo: John Kennedy Intermediate School Principal Brian Sutton instructs students before they participate in several activities related to Thanksgiving Tuesday at the Vine Street School. Photos by Steve Ognibene

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