The actual first Thanksgiving happened in 1621, but with the First Thanksgiving Project, AP United States’s History (APUSH) and AP English Language are bringing it to Avonworth in 2017 with a twist.
This is the first year this feast will be happening, as it was just suggested by junior Isabel Thompson a few weeks ago in her 6th period APUSH class. She said, “I like food days, and I had Puritans on my mind, so I said to myself, ‘How can I milk this in a way where we’ll get food before the break?’ and that’s how I came up with the idea.” Her idea was embraced by her classmates and Mrs. Chester, who helped turn this idea into a reality.
On Friday, November 17th, 11th grade students in APUSH and AP English sat down for a Thanksgiving feast during 5th period. Some students decided to go with authentic meals, such as smoked meat, which would have actually been eaten at the first Thanksgiving, while others have added a more modern twist. The only catch is that anyone bringing a dish has to write a short explanation of how it is related to the first Thanksgiving. For example, if someone were to bring pumpkin pie, they would have to explain that, while many ingredients for the pie would not have been available to the Pilgrims, they did have access to pumpkins. Other students are contributing non food-items, such as much needed utensils or decorations.
Beforehand, students seemed to be looking forward to the event for the most part, though they were certainly not overly enthusiastic. Erin Ove said, ““Yeeeaaaaaah.. I think this will be pretty chill.” When asked if he was looking forward to this, Wiley Bozada added, ““I’m not looking forward to the period 5 English class that is going to come and mooch all our food, but otherwise, yeah…” While this feast includes both APUSH classes and 5th period AP English, only the APUSH students are actually bringing things for the project.
At the actual feast, the room was packed full of juniors and the room was abuzz with chatter. Several of the students, explained the historical connection between their dishes and dishes from the first Thanksgiving, and then everyone happily flocked to the food, which was laid out on a side counter, and filled their plates.
After the feast, students certainly seemed to have enjoyed it. Erin noted, “I thought it was interesting to see how we’ve evolved from the very basics of food to this big spread that we had today and I think that it’s very cool to see people make connections to the traditional foods that were eaten at the first Thanksgiving and the foods we eat today,” showing the definite payoff of the educational aspect of this generally enjoyable project. Students and teachers alike seemed to admire was the fact that students had the chance to research and make something that they never would have looked into had they not done this project. One teacher who was involved with the feast, Mrs. Seabolt, added, “The pigeon pie was really cool! That’s something that you’d never make outside of this class and it was awesome that you could pull such an outdated recipe into modern times.”
Carolyn Abramowich, when asked about she felt about the feast, said, “I thought it was really fun… I feel like a lot of people tried stuff that was outside of the box.” Overall, it seems safe to deem this a successful project, that just may become a new Thanksgiving tradition for 11th graders.