We had a packed few days before we said good by for Thanksgiving break. They were fun, and also responsible.
Jake’s advisory buddied with Hannah and David’s 4th graders to make and top the apple crisp for our All School Activity on Tuesday. We measured for, mixed and topped twenty-six trays of apples in under thirty minutes. Thank to Jake for the photos: here’s a little slide show:
On Tuesday, we were able to connect with L.S. Matthews, the author of Fish, our Global Read Aloud selection for this fall. The novel, although published in 2004, turned out to be very timely because it involved a family of relief workers who cross war and weather torn mountains in order to arrive at the safety of a refugee camp. (When we chose the book in June, we did not realize how helpful it would become in talking with students about the current refugee crisis.)
Laura Matthews lives near Dorset, England and reached us for a forty-minute Skype interview. Students prepared questions ahead of time, and took turns sitting in front of the camera to speak with Matthews.
Matthews proved to be a thoughtful and patient person who was interested in hearing the questions. Students were curious about why the protagonist, named Tiger, is never identified as being a girl or a boy. Students also wondered about Tiger’s age. Matthews said she pictured Tiger as being about ten, and then asked the students how old they thought Tiger was. Students generally agreed that they had pictured Tiger as a little younger– not more than eight.
One of the most thought provoking questions, asked by students, was about the very end of the book. Tiger, the protagonist, has made it to safety. Waking up in the infirmary of the border refugee camp, Tiger sees not only that the Tiger’s particular fish has made it into a safe jar of clean water in the camp, but that the shelves in the infirmary are filled with dozens of other jars, also holding fish.
Matthews explained that she wrote the fish into the story as a symbol of hope, and that the ending, with many, many fish (which have been rescued), showed the hopes of many, many people. It was a big message, right from the author, especially given the time of year and current events.
Finally, our last big event of the day: Our All School Thanksgiving. This tradition has a few components that are constant, and there is always room for a few new variations. Our constants: to give opportunity for everyone in the community to express something they are grateful for. Students, faculty and staff have been doing this at school, likely since our founding. We also always gather in the theater to sing the “Thank You,” song. The closest thing we have to a school song, it was written by two PDS students more than a decade ago. This year’s newer activities: eating bread made by grades 4-5, butter made by the prek-K, and of course, the apple crisp.
Enjoy the photos of the enjoyable afternoon.