Holiday Activities - Thanksgiving
During the week before Thanksgiving, the student council at Braxton County HS in Sutton, WV, sponsors a turkey teacher contest. Council members post a picture of a turkey outside each classroom and sell "feathers" to be added to the turkey for 10 cents. For 25 cents a person can take a feather off a turkey. Student council members sell the feathers, keep track of the number sold (in case of stolen or inappropriately added feathers), and glue the feathers on daily. On the Friday before Thanksgiving they announce the name of the teacher with the most feathers--the turkey teacher--who is presented with a stuffed turkey to sit on his or her desk.
On the Friday before Thanksgiving weekend the student council of Pearl City (Hawaii) HS sets up a one-mile obstacle course called the Turkey Trot. To participate, teachers and students pay an entry fee of one canned good. Those who are willing to participate receive a detailed map of the race course and must estimate how long they will take to finish the race. Prizes are given to the first male and female to cross the finish line, the first teacher and student, and the person who guesses his/her finish time most accurately. If the principal participates a prize is given to the person who guesses the principal's finishing time most accurately. Prizes include turkeys, hams, and pumpkin pies. All food collected as entry fees is donated to a local food pantry.
As a class competition during lunch periods, the student council at Coachella Valley HS in Thermal, Calif., conducts a turkey bowling event. Members partially fill two-liter bottles with water and paint them in school colors or to look like turkeys. The bottles are arranged in front of two bales of hay for backstops. The object is for participants to knock down as many pins as they can in two tries by rolling or sliding a frozen turkey down a lane established on the blacktop. A running tally of points per class is posted for all to see. An alternative method is to award individual prizes.
By Kathy Aspinall
The student council at Chartiers Valley MS in Bridgeville, Pa., truly believes in giving back to the community. Each fall, our council organizes its annual "Turkey Trot" to raise money for needy families within our school district. All money raised in used to purchase gift certificates at local grocery stores so the families in need will be able to have delicious holiday meals.
Since the weather in Pittsburgh tends to be unpredictable in November, one afternoon is set aside in early October for this activity. The entire student body is encouraged to participate by gathering pledges of 20, 30, 40, and 50 cents for each lap they walk, jog, or run at the school track in the time period of one hour. Flat donations are also accepted in lieu of pledges. This is an activity that even physically challenged students may participate in. If students need the assistance of crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs, we always have an aide or faculty member walk with them.
Parent volunteers are used to mark the beginning spot for each lap. Every time a student completes a lap a parent gives him or her a pot holder loop. The pot holder loop is then placed on the student's wrist so he or she can keep out of completed laps. Orange cones from the physical education department are used to mark off the lanes on the track approximately 15-20 feet before the area where the parent volunteers stand to hand out the pot holder loops. this helps to funnel the students into an orderly fashion to receive their loops. Faculty members are stationed on the yard lines of the football field to help keep the students moving and to avoid pile-ups or congested traffic areas. We also use the football scoreboard to count back the one hour time mark. Students enjoy the big countdown-just like New Year's Eve!
At the end of one hour, students count their pot holder loops and then collect all pledge money. The money is returned to the school to be used to purchase gift certificates at the grocery stores. As a reward for not sitting down on the job and continuing to walk, jog, or run for one hour straight, all students who participate receive a turkey shaped cookie and bottle of juice to rejuvenate themselves upon completing the Turkey Trot.
Turkey Trot has become so popular at our school that we now have activities leading up to Turkey Trot Day. We rent a turkey costume and students may have their picture taken with the turkey at lunch. We have our annual Turkey Trot dance the day before Turkey Trot Day. Each student also makes a turkey shaped hand print out of colored construction paper. On the hand, they write one thing they are thankful for and all hand prints are then hung in the school lobby in the shape of a giant turkey. On Turkey Trot Day we have a local radio station come to our school to broadcast tunes as the students walk the track. We even have a teacher dress in the rented turkey costume and walk with the students. It has now become a contest for the students to guess which teacher or student teacher was brave enough to wear the costume.
This is a very easy, fun-filled, and inexpensive activity to organize for your school. Our student body of approximately 600 participating students raised in excess of $7,000 in one hour's time last year! Students and faculty alike get plenty of exercise and at the same time have the opportunity to help others.
Kathy Aspinall is the student council adviser at Chartiers Valley MS in Bridgeville, Pa. She serves on the Board of Directors for District 3 of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils.