PORT CHARLOTTE — Students in the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classes at Peace River Elementary School had the chance to be leaders, and show off what they learned last week.

The students from Kathleen Sliker’s and Allyn Shelatz’ classes took turns reading parts about the first Thanksgiving in front of teachers and peers during a pre-holiday feast.

It was part of a two-week lesson, in which they learned all about the Mayflower, and what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving. Students made all the crafts for the Thanksgiving feast, and cooked the food with the help of their teachers. They even learned a dance for their performance.

Shelatz said they really tried to incorporate all curriculum into the feast.

“It’s a chance for them to be leaders, because they’re never leaders,” Shelatz said. “It’s an opportunity for them to get in front of the class and show what they learned.”

She added that the students can tell you anything about the Mayflower, or what the pilgrims ate during the first Thanksgiving.

Sliker said that two of her students are non-verbal, but practicing for the performance helped them to verbalize.

“They’re proud of themselves,” she said. “They came together as a family.”

She added that the students helped each other practice, they became more social, confident and independent.

Students were excited when Principal Heidi Keegan arrived.

“It’s challenging, but they’re willing to do it, because of the people around them,” Keegan said of the students’ performance.

“This is not just teaching, this is an experience. This is something they’ll remember forever,” she added.

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