Several students were asked to read their pieces aloud before the assembled family members and students. While the student read, the ancestor was asked to accompany the student to the front of the cafeteria and sit in the "ancestor chair," adorned with decorations. Those students were Jessica Ryan, Jacob Pieklik, Aishwarya Suresh, Kelsey Austin, Dominic Castiglia and Rachel Kline. They described their ancestors' favorite pastimes (hopscotch and jumping rope were popular), the chores they did (washing dishes, making beds and more -- mostly without an allowance) and the prices of things (candy for ten cents, a movie for 25).
The students' ancestors also had varied memories of historic events. The grandmothers in the crowd had been most effected by World War II. One lived in Italy when the Germans invaded, while another had two brothers in the military when Pearl Harbor was attacked. One mother, a native of India, recalled the assassination of Indira Gandhi shortly after meeting the prime minister on a field trip. Another mom recalled her own mother and grandmother crying after John F. Kennedy was killed.
In addition to the readings, the kids also performed four family-related songs. Each ancestor was given a photo of him or herself with their child as a keepsake, and an artifact table was set up in the back of the room. The table held such historic mementos as photos, flags, dolls, books, newspaper clippings and war memorabilia.
An important history lesson
Special Ancestors Day allowed students a better understanding of where their families came from as well as a glimpse into history. Because of that, teachers have no doubt that the event is worthwhile.
"With all of the emphasis on state testing, teachers are forced to make a decision as to what's important," Roth said. "This is important. They learn so much, and it's so important to our culture."