It’s the most thankful time of year at Stanley Switlik Elementary School. When Keys Weekly visited the little ones on Nov. 17, preparations for the holiday were well underway, with several classrooms eager to talk about their plans for the upcoming vacation and show off their seasonal art projects (some were more “hand-made” than others – check out the photos). But as we all know, Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude, so we took some time to get to know several of the students and ask them what they were most thankful for this year – and what their dinner plans entail.

We started off in Ms. Collins’ first grade classroom with Iris, left, Penelope, Kaidence and Tristen. While Kaidence was thrilled to eat the “really good stuff” her family cooks on Thanksgiving, Penelope looked forward to spending time with her loved ones. Kaidence also let us know she’s ready to eat the “brown thing that’s an oval with legs sticking out of it” (we’re thinking turkey), Tristen said he’s more of a chicken guy himself, and Iris and Penelope want to chow down on some mashed potatoes.

Anthony, left, Giuliana, Jamber and Andrew were next and had plenty to be grateful for. Anthony is ready for some games of hide-and-seek with his family, while Giuliana told us she’s thankful to learn spelling and reading from her teachers. The group was eager to show off their class tadpoles and said they enjoyed learning about animals from Ms. Collins as well. Jamber told us he’s ready to break tradition and eat pizza on Thanksgiving, while Andrew was thankful that his year so far included getting a pretty sweet hoverboard.

Our journey continued to Mr. Wiley’s art classroom, where we sat down with third graders Eulila, left, Mia and Magdiel to get their thoughts. Magdiel would like to thank his mom and dad “because I love them,” while Eulila thanked her teacher Ms. Dennington for helping her learn. Cheer enthusiast Mia thanked her Stars of the Florida Keys cheer coach Ms. Stacey for taking time out of her day to help the young athletes improve.

Ian, left, Kaylan and Caleb were up next. In a recurring theme, Ian wanted to thank his mom and dad. “They work so hard to provide for us,” he said. In a similar vein, Caleb thanked his parents for taking care of him for his whole life while working very hard. He was appreciative of his teacher as well, saying Ms. Dennington “tries her hardest to teach us.” Kaylan thanked his brothers for always playing with him, while appreciating his parents for making food for him. 

Ms. Woodbury’s kindergarteners with freshly-completed “hand turkeys” were the final stop on our tour.

Photos by Alex Rickert

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.