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Fabius-Pompey Central School District

Timothy P. Ryan, Superintendent of Schools
1211 Mill Street
Fabius, NY 13063
Phone (315) 683-5301
Fax (315) 683-5827

The internet has bombarded our society with information, both accurate and inaccurate, and by doing so has caused confusion and in many cases sown seeds of discontent over a multitude of topics. Knowledge in which we were once secure, has been questioned, teased apart and dismantled. Sometimes this has been invaluable in creating new knowledge or strengthening long-held convictions. In other instances, it has only served to cast unwarranted doubt. A primary mission of public education is to develop the critical reasoning skills necessary for citizenship, and a time-tested way to do so is examining historical events as a foundation for our students to predict future events. The current climate of questioning the value of traditions, from Columbus Day, to the July 4 celebration to the “reality” of Thanksgiving, has made educators’ jobs exponentially more difficult.

There was a time when a Social Studies teacher could teach about an event such as one of the abovementioned, and that knowledge would be used as a foundation to practice inquiry skills or to develop predictions necessary for the advancement of critical reasoning. Today, a large part of that same teacher’s time might be used to disprove revisionist history to which students have been exposed in an effort to promote specific agendas. Furthermore, in this environment of supercharged political sensitivity, teachers strive to tread lightly in order not to be perceived of teaching bias.

These thoughts come to mind as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday and are, once again, exposed to dissenting opinions about this long-held tradition. We know that the first Thanksgiving harkens back to 1621, when colonists from the Mayflower celebrated surviving the bitter winter and a bountiful harvest made possible with the help and guidance of Native Americans. We know that in 1789, George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving a holiday. Historians have suggested that he was as much giving thanks for the survival of our fledgling nation as remembering the first Thanksgiving. The last Thursday in November was established as the day to pause and give thanks by President Lincoln. And in 1941, as the world erupted into war, Congress made it a legal, Federal holiday. Throughout the history of our Nation, leaders have promoted the importance of us, as a people, participating in a day to remember and to be thankful.

A priest I once knew described Thanksgiving as America’s Holy Day. He believed that regardless of a person’s religious conviction or lack thereof, any day when we as a nation paused to give thanks was profound. He didn’t express frustration for the current climate which fosters arguments regarding the historical details of Thanksgiving. To the contrary, he believed the gratitude created by expressing thankfulness would contribute to a sense of well-being and lead to a greater peace.

As a school system, we will always strive to teach the most accurate facts and to continuously engage students in exercises designed to strengthen their abilities to reason. To those ends, remembering the historical foundation for Thanksgiving is of utmost importance. As important is teaching the next generation the value of taking the time to be grateful. Most likely we will always argue about who we were in the past. Hopefully we will develop a collective vision of who we want to be, and included in that vision will be we as a grateful people as demonstrated by our celebration of Thanksgiving.
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Address: 1211 Mill Street | Fabius, NY 13063
Phone: (315)683-5301