Taking Care and Giving Thanks

Students, staff and parents demonstrate the spirit of the holiday season

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Kansas City, November 22, 2016:  Benjamin Banneker Elementary School sixth grader Robert Yancy wants to make something very clear about Kansas City Public Schools leading into the holiday season.

“Our families care about each other, and people need to see that,” Mr. Yancy said. “It’s good to have families in schools and participating, and that’s what’s happening at our school.”

Yancy was one of five well-spoken students dressed in their holiday best and welcoming guests to the school for a family meal on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The meal was among a host of Thanksgiving-related events across KCPS as students, parents, staff, administrators and volunteers demonstrated their holiday spirit.

img_7105Students hosted the family meal at Banneker Elementary, which cost a discounted $3 per ticket and was served by faculty and staff members. This was the first year the school has hosted a meal like that, according to Principal Harrison Neal, who had success with something similar at a school he led earlier in his career.

“This is all about getting families involved at school,” Mr. Neal said. “They have to know that we care and this is one way that we can show it.”

That message of caring came through loud and clear for Brayline Baker, father of kindergartener Jayten Bartee.

“I just really like the fact that we’re being invited into the school and made to feel welcome,” Mr. Baker said.

Fourth grade teacher Chelsea Cundiff and several of her fellow faculty members stood at the food line serving chicken fingers, sliced turkey breast, green beans, mashed potatoes and rolls to students and parents. Successful schools find innovative ways of connecting with parents and other stakeholders, she said.

“A lunch like this helps us build relationships outside classrooms with the families we serve,” Cundiff said. “They know that we’re on their side, that we do care. This comes from a loving place. These kids are our kids.”

img_7101Across town that same day, to the north, Central Academy of Excellence Principal Anthony Madry helped coordinate delivery of 35 turkeys and dinner baskets donated by families to The Know Joey Foundation’s annual Turkey Tuesday event at the Negro League Baseball Museum.

Teaching young people to care is one of the most important jobs of any school, according to Mr. Madry.

“It’s important that we help them develop a character of humility and generosity,” Madry said. “They need to understand that if they can help people who need help, they should help.”

Rainy Cadenhead’s daughter Tyra is a sophomore at Central Academy. Ms. Cadenhead was also at the 24-hour long Turkey Day and expressed her appreciation for the school’s participation in the event.

“I think it’s important that kids learn to give,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re all in this together and we need to care about each other.”

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