Murray kindergarten students host annual Thanksgiving Fest

Virginia Melanson (left) and Megan Calhoun, kindergarten teachers at Phillip Murray Language Academy, working with students in an after-school program. The pair also organized the annual Kindergarten Thanksgiving Luncheon. (Photo by Wendell Hutson)

By Wendell Hutson
Contributing Writer

Phillip Murray Language Academy parents received a treat from the school’s 39 kindergarten students who were eager to show their appreciation at Thanksgiving.

As a group, students recited a poem, then sang a song and finally shared a catered thanksgiving meal – complete with fried and barbecued chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, sweet potato pie, and dinner rolls – with their parents on Tuesday.

It’s an annual tradition at Murray that has been going on for more than 30 years, according to Megan Calhoun, one of two kindergarten teachers at Murray Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave.

“I have only been at Murray for two years, but according to veteran teachers who have been here for 30 years they say this event started before they got here, and it’s still going strong today,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to get the kids ready for this event, but it’s well worth it in the end. The children did a great job, and I am very proud of them.”

The one-hour event was well attended by parents, too.

“I believe every child except one brought at least one adult today,” said Virginia Melanson, another kindergarten teacher at Murray. “Overall, Murray parents support their children and the activities we have at the school.”

Janice Bromfield, 66, was among those adults at the event.

“My daughter had to work, so I am here for my granddaughter,” said Bromfield. “The kids look so cute doing their thing and for a 5-year-old I’d say these kids did a marvelous job.”

One proud moment as a kindergarten teacher Melanson said she gets is when a child blossoms in reading.

“They may start from learning letters and handwriting but over time to watch them take ownership and become a reader is very powerful to witness, and it is an honor to be a part of that,” explained Melanson.

Murray Principal Greg Mason also attended the event and said all praise goes to Melanson and Calhoun who organized the fest.

“Those are the ladies who deserve all the credit for this wonderful program put on by our kindergarteners,” he said. “It was a real treat to watch the children perform and then share a meal with their parents.”

The Hyde Park school offers French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish to students in grades kindergarten through eight. Murray Elementary opened in December 1954 and became a World Language Magnet School for Chicago Public Schools in 1981. The school is named after the late Philip Murray, a former president for the United Steel Workers of America.