GARDNER – Elm Street School recently hosted their first-ever Turkey Trot to encourage healthy outdoor activities while the entire second grade was running laps in the school yard.
Elm Street School second grade teacher Ashley Chicoine said the school’s focus for the entire November has revolved around the story of Thanksgiving by understanding and recognizing the different cultures that come together, reap blessings, and share time with the family members appreciate.
“So [the school] decided that health is a huge part of everything that has happened right now and that this will be a great way to join a new tradition. The students created turkey hats and turkey lap counters that they took to the playground, ”said Chicoine.
Biggest event since the pandemic
The idea to host this event came from a second grader who mentioned that he was going to be watching a friend do the Gardner Turkey Trot.
“Then it came up with one of our teachers and they said, ‘Well, I’m going to dress up like a turkey’ and then it kind of went on,” Chicoine said.
She explained that the planning process for the event went very quickly as both teachers and staff were very supportive of the idea.
“We didn’t need a lot of resources for that. It was more about who’s doing what and we got the plan together and started within a week, ”said Chicoine.
The Turkey Trott, which began at 9:30 a.m. on November 24, was the largest event the school has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out – it included all eight second grade classrooms.
Chicoine said days earlier the second graders dyed turkey hats to be worn during the event.
“They loved being able to decorate their own feathers and all that stuff. So they were really excited to do this, ”she said.
Work towards your goal
Aside from the Turkey Trot, Elm Street School has been engaged in all sorts of activities throughout November to focus on the goals that Chicoine says they are trying to achieve.
“We did different things in different classrooms, like reading different stories, giving answers [Thanksgiving-related] Questions and book purchases, ”she said.
Chicoine added that one of the initiatives in hosting the Turkey Trot has been to expose students to the experience they “missed” during the pandemic.
“It’s been two tough years for her,” she said. “We’re trying to bring activity back for them in a safe way.”
Many elementary school students have had difficulty studying in the past two years due to COVID-19, particularly because frequent use of face masks has hampered one of the most important elements of learning at a young age: facial expressions.
“It was absolutely a deficit for us to teach [social] Skills in lower elementary school, especially Pre-K, K, first and second grades. There is a lot to learn how to be social, ”said Chicoine. “We had to overcome many obstacles to be able to give [the students normal experiences] but still maintain adequate security and make sure everyone is safe. ”
Although the school has found alternative and more creative ways to provide students with a normal elementary school experience, according to Chicoine it is still “a little different” and not as healthy.
Needless to say, Chicoine is grateful to have “great” parents and teachers on the second grade team.
“They always ask if we need something, for example supplies, or if there is something they can do. They understand very well where the students are, ”she said.