The kindergarteners at Silver Mesa Elementary on Monday found a new way to celebrate food and friends, with a slight change to an annual Farm-to-School event.
In any other year, the children would have taken a field trip to the Utah State Capitol to learn more about how Utah farmers help fill dinner plates with a bounteous harvest every day, and not just on Thanksgiving. This time, though, the field trip came to them — and they couldn’t have been more pleased.
From cheering for their favorite fruits and vegetables to asking personal questions of a dairy farmer, an apple farmer, a beef rancher and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the students experienced their first assembly in the school’s cafeteria. Silver Mesa was the only school invited to participate in the live virtual assembly in honor of Harvest Gratitude Day.
“This is a special activity for them,” Silver Mesa Principal Julie Fielding said. “It’s a unique opportunity for them, and they’re excited.”
Because of restrictions on large gatherings, students throughout Canyons District are finding different ways to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year — including running a virtual 5K race called “Trot for Tech” that benefits CSD students without WiFi access at home — but one thing has remained the same: The time away from school to mark the holiday.
Canyons’ schools are adjourning for the Thanksgiving Recess and remaining closed Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Friday Nov. 27.
School for students not engaged in virtual learning because of rising COVID-19 cases will resume on Monday, Nov. 30. Brighton and Hillcrest high schools will remain on an online-learning schedule after the recess.
At Silver Mesa Elementary, students experienced a different twist on the school’s traditional activities that take place this time of year, but those twists brought new opportunities. After listening to Herbert declare Monday, Nov. 23 as Harvest Gratitude Day, students took turns asking the governor questions.
“What do you do? What is your job?” one student asked the governor.
“My wife wonders that same question that all of the time,” Herbert jokingly replied.
He later took a moment to acknowledge the hard work teachers are doing to provide an education to students during the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We appreciate our teachers. We couldn’t do this without you,” he said.
Students were captivated as they watched cows move from one pasture to another. They cheered as they watched the process of crushing apples to create apple juice, and they “ooh’ed” and “aah’ed” when they saw several minutes-old baby calves at a dairy farm.
“Little children are so resilient, they make the best of things,” said Silver Mesa kindergarten teacher Lynette Keller. “They will have fun no matter the circumstances. They just decided that a virtual field trip sounded amazing. They just want to learn about our world, and to them, this is quite a treat.”
At the conclusion of the virtual field trip, the students celebrated with a “Friendship Feast,” complete with lunches brought from home.
This year, staffing challenges caused by the pandemic altered Canyons’ traditional plans to serve a turkey dinner with homemade stuffing for school lunch the day before Thanksgiving Recess. Instead, we found a way to share some of that goodness with the community.
For your Thanksgiving feast, here is Canyons’ original recipe for school bread stuffing. Enjoy!
School Bread Stuffing
- 2.5 oz. yellow onion
- 2.5 oz. celery
- 2.5 oz. butter
- 2 cups water
- .5 oz. chicken base paste
- 1/8 t. black pepper
- 1/3 t. poultry seasoning
- 5/8 loaf sandwich bread
Cube and dry bread ahead of time. The drying will take at least overnight. Dice onions and celery. Sauté onions and celery in butter until tender-crisp. Add water, chicken base and seasonings to sautéed vegetables, heat until hot. Add vegetable mixture, toss lightly until thoroughly mixed. Avoid over-mixing, which causes dressing to be soggy and compact. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add stuffing to pan. Cover will foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Yields 8 half cup servings.