Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Our Surprise Thanksgiving Feast

Every year, Melissa and I plan a huge surprise Thanksgiving breakfast buffet for the kids on the day before our break. We enlist the help of the kids' parents with a TOP SECRET e-mail at the beginning of November. Parents sign up for items they'll contribute and some make a commitment to come to school and help set up the event. There is a lot of coordination and planning in the few weeks before our feast but most of it is done through e-mail.

On the morning of our Thanksgiving feast, Melissa comes up with an excuse to be absent for the first couple of hours of classes. We get a substitute in her room while she is down in the library organizing parents, cooking and setting up the buffet. Soon, the smell of bacon wafts through the building. Kids are busily working like any other day, unbeknownst to the setup in the library. At the end of second hour, Melissa texts me that everything is ready. It's time for the big guns! Our principal, in a ruse, comes to our team and talks to them sternly about the improper use of cellphones and devices. She notes some statistics that make it clear that the kids are in trouble. She then tells them that we are going to do some emergency digital citizenship lessons in the library so everyone should line up to talk down to the LMC.

When the doors open and the kids wander in, they see many of their parents and tables of food, all prepared for them. They have no earthly clue what is happening. Even after the adults yell "Surprise!" the kids are befuddled. The looks on their faces are priceless. It is awesome! "Are we still in trouble?" "What's going on?" "Are our parents here to punish us about the cell phones?" the kids ask. When we make it clear to them that this is a holiday buffet and that the cell phone issue was just a way to get them to the library without them guessing the truth, they relax, start to laugh, and begin their celebration. "Wow! We really thought we were in trouble!" they say during conversation.

The parents are incredible. They pitch in and help make this an event that the kids will never forget. Year after year, we try our best to keep this event a secret and year after year, we succeed. This success is especially surprising because last year's team is in the eighth grade in our building. They keep mum, I think, because they want our current team to experience the surprise that they got to experience. Even the few kids whose siblings we had years before, keep quiet so that everyone else will be surprised. That is the climate of our team. We look out for each other, we take care of each other, we promote the accomplishments of each other and we always help each other. For that, we are so thankful.

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