One Table Celebrating Inclusion
(Aiken Standard online news article by Larry Wood, photo by Cindy Kubovic on November 26)
GRANITEVILLE — Students at Byrd Elementary School celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday with the same spirit the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared in 1621: inclusion.
Just as the English settlers and Wampanoag Indians came together to feast and give thanks at the end of a successful harvest, 4K and special needs students came together with family and friends to share breakfast at the school's first One Table celebration.
Sabrina Romero said Aiken's annual One Table community-wide dinner in The Alley on Thanksgiving Day inspired her to do the same at Byrd.
“We decided to bring the One Table into the school from the community and have our regular ed children placed along with our special ed kids,” said Romero, who works with early learning, special education teacher Ivey Savage. “We wanted them to be one group, to come together and to be included."
Older special education students served the breakfast, which included grits with cheese, sausage, ham, and fresh berries and grapes for the children.
“We wanted our children to be included regardless of their ability, not their disability,” Romero said.
Family and friends chose from plates piled high with muffins and pastries.
Byrd Elementary teachers and aides developed the menu and prepared the food.
The students designed place mats and created Thanksgiving costumes: tall, brown hats for the boys and white caps tied under the chin for the girls who represented the Pilgrims and white tunics and headdresses with feathers for the Native Americans.
The special education students' tunics featured Native American names that reflected their personalities: Spring Owl, Rising Star, Strong Flower, Brave Heart.
Romero said inclusion is just one of the lessons the Thanksgiving One Table teaches.
“It's about sharing and being caring, kind and nice. The earlier they learn, the better they will be as they grow up into school-age children,” she said. "I'm thankful for all of these children and the school system we have, how they include everybody together and make us one group, one table. It's just wonderful to see them all together.”