Friendsgiving Celebration Sparks Controversy at Worcester Elementary School

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What some say was just intended to be a fun Friendsgiving celebration for the pre-K through sixth-grade students at a Massachusetts school has sparked a debate within the Worcester School Committee.

Staff at Worcester's Goddard School of Science and Technology were asked to dress up as a pilgrim, a Wampanoag, a Mayflower voyager or a blacksmith.

"They're asking educators to come in in what amounts to blackface, basically," said school committee member Dante Comparetto. "What is problematic is when that history and that message is reinforcing racist stereotypes."

"What I saw happen is that there were 500 kids having a Thanksgiving, a great time," said fellow school committee member Donna Colorio.

Colorio says the staff did not come dressed up as Pilgrims or Native Americans, but added that what was initially planned was well within state education standards.

"If people felt that strongly about the history curriculum, then they should have been at the table while those standards were being revised," said Colorio.

Parents of Goddard students were mixed on the reaction to the Friendsgiving program.

"I think they should do an apology, maybe, if it offended someone culturally, but at the end of the day, it's a holiday," said Kim Skorb, a parent of a second-grader. "It's time to just be thankful, anyways."

"I just think that some people always criticize, no matter how good it is, or no matter how it is, some people always have something to say negative about something. But this principal is great," said first-grade parent Mercy Nchaw.

The state revised education standards this year.

NBC10 Boston reached out to the superintendent of schools for a comment, but did not hear back.

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