By: Avery Murphy, City Year Denver AmeriCorps Member


As Thanksgiving approaches, I have, fittingly, thought a lot about gratitude and thankfulness in my service at City Year. I feel extremely lucky to serve in a joy-filled elementary school. Without doubt, I am thankful for my students and for the hilarious things they do or say every day. Some of the best (in both funny and touching ways) examples of their musings occurred last week, in their expressions of gratitude leading up to the holiday.

Much like many other schools, every student in every class made a “thankful turkey” on which students wrote one thing he or she was thankful for on each of the five paper “feathers.” I was fortunate enough to be in the classroom for this activity with both the fourth and fifth grade. In the fifth grade, the teacher implored his students to “dig deeper” with their thanks, and not just show appreciation for their X-boxes or candy. The students quietly pondered their answers and wrote them on the little turkeys with very serious faces. Many said “I am thankful for my mom,” or “shelter.” Another popular one was “eyesight.” Over half the class wrote “I am thankful for the Broncos,” and/or “Peyton Manning.” Unsurprisingly, a lot of students decorated of their turkeys in patriotic blue and orange.

I stopped at the desk of one thoughtful fifth grader who wrote, “I am thankful for Isaac Newton for gravity.” Intrigued, I asked him why he penned this as one of his five thankful feathers. His bright-eyed response: “Think about it, miss. Without Isaac Newton, we’d all just be floating around like crazy!” I could not argue with his reasoning.

In fourth grade, another insightful student wrote “pencils” on one feather, and “erasers” on another. When asked why he wrote these ordinary classroom utensils, he replied; “Because without pencils you could not write and without erasers you could not fix your mistakes.” I loved the simplicity and honesty of his gratitude.

Most touching, though, were the ten or so students who wrote “I am thankful for City Year for helping me.”

What are you most thankful for?

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