Events at The School of Grace

By Lynn Hess, Director

January is the midpoint of our school year.  This is a time of reflection, looking back on the first half of the year and making plans for Winter and Spring months.  One of my favorite annual events at The School of Grace is our Annual Friendship Feast, which is celebrated twice during the week of Thanksgiving. 

Here is a summary of the Feast in November, 2012:

First, the meal was enjoyed by the children who attend school on Mondays in the Turtle Class, along with their families.

Second, the feast was celebrated on Tuesday by all of the other children in the school and their families.

The first celebration was held in the snack room of the Turtle Class.  The “family” included teachers, parents, grandparents, an aunt and the six students.
We sang and signed our blessing:

 Give thanks, to the Lord,
 Give thanks, to the Lord,
 For He loves you.
 He loves me, too.
 Give thanks to the Lord our God!

…which was followed by a one year old calling out, “AGAIN!”, so we eagerly complied.

Each family brought either one of the child’s favorite foods, or a food representing their culture.  This wasn’t your typical Thanksgiving Dinner.  We dined on a variety of food, some of which were ham rolls, macaroni and cheese, spicy potatoes and sweets from Nepal.  The room was filled with 17 people, who were all there for the same purpose:  to celebrate our love for these precious children.

If you aren’t familiar with the Turtle Class snack room, walk down to the Miller building and peek into the room on the far right.  You’ll see a crib, a table, an art cabinet, two high chairs and a refrigerator tucked into an 11×12 foot space.  Then imagine 17 happy people, who didn’t care that as adults they either sat on the floor or stood while eating.  Imagine the children, sitting at the toddler table or high chairs, gazing around at everyone who was there just because of them.   
The second celebration was the following day, including 23 children, their teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings and friends.  Tables were set up in the narthex, with a serving line on the counter and across a table in front of the library door.  Moving from one place to another resembled moving through a maze, one filled with introductions of new friends and familiar greetings of old friends.

The decorations included placemats and centerpieces created by the children in the Turtle, Tadpole and Monkey Classes.  Our oldest class adorned Pilgrim and Native American attire, which they had created as part of their study of the first Thanksgiving.

The food was a potpourri of favorites, varying cultures and diverse family traditions.

Before we began, The School of Grace alumnus, Patrick H., helped lead us all in three of our favorite table blessings:  “Give Thanks”, “The Superman Prayer” and “God Our Father”, after which we gathered plates and began to enjoy the bountiful blessings.

 (sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

 God our Father, God our Father,
 Once again, once again,
 Thank you for our blessings,
 Thank you for our blessings,
 A-a-men.  A-a-men.

Just like at a family reunion, photos were taken throughout the memorable event. 

After our plates were cleared, some family members remained in the narthex to take down tables and clean, while the children moved to the playgrounds with the rest of the adults.

The playgrounds were full of delightful squeals and caring conversations.  Families expressed their gratitude to the staff for loving their children.  Teachers, in turn, thanked the parents and grandparents for their participation in a program that celebrates all children, exactly as they are. 

This day of blessing was celebrated by two mothers, a grandmother and a grandfather who are all Hindu; a Muslim mother; Christians of varying denominations; and a few who don’t attend church at all.

This day of blessing was possible because the people of Grace Lutheran recognize the preschool as a mission of the Church, enabling us to bring people into our midst who wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to be here.

This day of blessing was possible because God is working through us, calling us to live our faith and welcome everyone.

For all of this, I am thankful.