Students dig into non-traditional Thanksgiving feast

There wasn’t a clean face in sight Tuesday at Mountain Avenue Elementary School as kindergartners and their families gathered for a midday Thanksgiving feast.

But while the music and décor were decidedly traditional — turkey-themed headpieces and jingles — the menu more closely resembled an international buffet. Sushi rolls and rice cakes sat next to plantains and buñuelos, followed by German apple kuchen and Canadian soft molasses cookies.

The unorthodox fare was a first for a Thanksgiving feast at the La Crescenta school, which has embraced the theme of diversity for the current school year, teachers and administrators said.

“We began to see that we needed to incorporate more of the traditional identities of our students,” Principal Rebecca Wit said. “This is the first time we are trying more of an international-type feast with parents bringing food from their country of origin.”

Students spent several weeks preparing for their Thanksgiving performance, which included a half-dozen poems and songs delivered in front of a crowd of camera-wielding parents.

The celebration allowed her to incorporate the schoolwide celebration of diversity into daily course work of social studies and poetry, kindergarten teacher Rachel Stout said.

“We have tweaked it a little bit,” Stout said. “I think this year we wanted to modernize it.”

The international menu proved to be the highlight, with parents and grandparents outnumbering students in the buffet line.

“For the sake of the classroom, I think it is terrific,” said parent Jennifer Westerlund, who added sushi and sticky rice to the classroom meal. “You are getting a blend of all the countries and nationalities, and in essence the schools are like that anyway, so it is nice to show.”

Kindergarten parent Esther Ibarra, who contributed buñuelos to the feast, said she will add a Mexican twist to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner she prepares Thursday.

“I am all for tradition, but there are certain tastes you crave all the time,” Ibarra said. “It is nice to put your culture into whatever the meal of the day is.”

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