Second graders show their thanks with the 'Turkey Woogie'



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Second graders rock out on air homemade air guitars. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
December 02, 2009
Residents of Gilford Knolls were pleasantly surprised by a visit from Gilford Elementary School second graders dressed as pilgrims and mashed potatoes in honor of their musical, "A Time to Give Thanks: A Celebration of Thanksgiving."

GES second grade teacher and director of "Celebration Thanksgiving," Patty Smith plans a musical with the kids every year. Kids sang thankful songs to rock and roll tunes, 1950s music, and danced to the "Mashed Potatoes" song, "Gratitude Attitude," "Turkey Woogie," and "Thanksgiving Day."

Smith informed the audience at the show that five children with parts were actually out sick, but that the other children had accommodated for these circumstances. Although a few parts were missing, the musical was still a hit with residents of Gilford Knolls who were singing and even dancing along.

Smith said her kids put a lot of work into their performance. Rehearsals have been held every Thursday since school started this year, for about a half hour at a time.

"We have been rehearsing since September. That is about two and a half months. You are all welcomed to dance along," said Smith.

Smith's annual musical with the second graders is not always focused on the holidays, but on subjects her students may be learning as well. Smith's fellow faculty members said they admired her dedication and her talent as a musician (although she is not a music teacher) on the piano during musicals.

Every year, Smith said she makes sure to look for a new theme and music to go along with it. She also finds it important to incorporate public speaking into her musicals, and hands out scripts for the children to read in advance.

In between energetic songs and dances about mashed potatoes and a turkey dinner, the second graders lined up and stated what they were thankful for into the microphone. The answers ranged from family and friends to gummy bears.

Children also went through the history of Thanksgiving Day and the voyage of the pilgrims. They not only celebrated friends, family, and a hearty meal, but the country as well with the song "Thankful for the U.S.A.," which incorporated red, white, and blue tassels.

Residents of Gilford Knolls said they always love when the children come to visit, and remembered when Smith's second graders came one year to help spruce up their garden. All the residents agreed that they were thankful for children who give them hope.

Smith also expressed her gratitude toward the audience, staff, and volunteers who helped out. Second grade teachers also helped with their pilgrim and mashed potato costumes and came to volunteer during rehearsal times.

The children remained busy last Monday and presented "Celebration Thanksgiving" for their second performance that day at GES.

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