Giving Thanks Turkey a feather in school’s cap

The Giving Thanks Turkey at Rosendale Elementary School is made up of about 400 feathers. Photo: Kate BunsterThe Giving Thanks Turkey at Rosendale Elementary School is made up of about 400 feathers. Photo: Kate Bunster

Gazette Reporter

With Halloween in the past, it’s time to start thinking about the next holiday. Thanksgiving is approaching and Rosendale Elementary School is wasting no time this year getting their students and faculty in a grateful mood. Their Giving Thanks Turkey, which is comprised of feathers from everyone in the building, is now on display in the main foyer for all to see. Each feather has a message of something they are grateful for.ysnk nov13 turkey (1)

In its third year, the Giving Thanks Turkey has proven successful in the past, giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to bond over their gratitude. Each Rosendale class is provided with feathers to be handed out to students. The students write what they are grateful for. This not only serves as a beautiful decoration for the school, but most importantly provides teachers with a segway into what the holiday is about.

Cindy Wilde, a library aide at Rosendale Elementary, came up with the idea after talking to a parent who had a giving thanks turkey in their home. The turkey had just five feathers, for each member of the family. Wilde saw the potential for the turkey to grow by introducing it to Rosendale and brought the idea to Lauren Gemmill, assistant superintendent for instruction at Niskayuna.

“She liked the idea of everyone having a voice,” said Wilde, who went forward with the project.
Each year, there is much excitement around the Giving Thanks Turkey. This year, Wilde hung up the body of turkey and wrote above it “I’m not molting, I’m just waiting for your feathers.” The kids waited in anticipation for the teachers to pass out feathers of their own. It took Wilde about an hour and a half to staple all 400 of the turkey feathers together, but the result was worth it.

“It is such a great easy way for everyone at Rosendale to give thanks and share all of their blessings. Having it on display in the front hall is the perfect place,” said Gemmill. “It is a little thing but over the years it has become a wonderful tradition.”
According to Wilde, the teachers are the ones who have really taken the idea and ran with it. They explain to the kids why they are contributing to the Giving Thanks Turkey and what Thanksgiving is about.

“You’ll see on some of the feathers that there are words crossed out. Some kids couldn’t decide what to write. We announce when we have some extra in the office so they can make another one,” said Wilde. The words on the feathers range from being thankful for nature, to family and friends, and to simply being alive.

The students of Rosendale can be seen gathered around the Giving Thanks Turkey in the mornings and after school looking for their feather. When they walk by, their eyes light up. Although some of the students may be too young to understand Thanksgiving in its entirety, they know it’s special. The turkey serves as a reminder for not only the students, but everyone who steps foot into Rosendale to be thankful for the things they have, which hopefully lasts throughout the year.