Photo courtesy of Carsen Dean
Photo courtesy of Carsen Dean

Recently, I went through my teaching files again after first going through all of them when retiring in 2010. I opened my Thanksgiving folder to find papers that brought back great memories.

At one time, we had an All-School Thanksgiving Dinner in the Hope Elementary Gym which was first coordinated by teacher, Barb Walters, who had received very appreciative approval from principal, Warner Michener. During the event, Mr. Michener would always stress what was important in his life: God, family, and the value of time and “kids” while referring to his Mickey Mouse watch. The event took the effort of many.

Once Barb retired, I became quite involved. Within the folder, I found a poem that Carsen Dean wrote for a class assignment. When developing a program for 2005, I thought her poem would be the perfect introduction while a student representative from each class incorporated their flashlight with the gym lights off. I then briefly spoke about the importance of physical light and letting our personal lights shine through a smile, a positive note, a hug, a thank you, or in other ways.

Afterward, the Thanksgiving feast was served on placemats which each student had added their creative touch, food the cooks had spent hours preparing and that many parent volunteers served. Below, you will find Carsen's poem, a poem I have kept for all these years and thought important to share with HSJ readers in 2020:

“The Light” (c) 2005 by Carsen Dean, Age 10

“I ran through the past of this world
I watched people be without love and without care
As I dashed through history
I saw painful wars and people with despair

“But I turned around and walked into the light
The light of everlasting love
Only the love that can be given
From someone close or from above

“I turned my back on such terrible ways
And stayed here for the cause of everlasting light
A place where I will not allow to be night
A place where I will help everything to be right
A place I (we) always will want to be”

After graduating from Hauser, Carsen attended Indiana University, interned at Eli Lilly and Heritage of Hope, and was in the first graduating class of the IU School of Animal Science. She later found herself working in one of the most interesting places in the world, on famous magician David Copperfield's island, where she took care of exotic animals for two years. Carsen is now a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Georgia helping with some fascinating projects and will soon be teaching at their School of Poultry Science. It is a perfect fit since Carsen's interest in chickens started as an eighth grader. She earned 4-H Grand Champion as a senior and later worked on creating a national club in order to get long-tailed red roosters recognized in competitions.

Undoubtedly, Carsen's light continues to shine. And, I will never forget that day years ago when she wrote a special poem and read it in front of all gathered in the Hope Elementary Gym. For sure, Thanksgiving will be rather different for all of us this year. However, may each of us focus on things to be thankful for and find a way to shine our light no matter what.