Since 2002, Dayspring Christian Academy has been educating and entertaining families through a dramatic live presentation of the Thanksgiving story in a free event called Thanksgiving Exposed. The presentation has become a community tradition that some families attend every year, and after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns, it was no surprise that open spots for the event filled up in record time. On Friday, November 18, attendees were shown the full history behind the holiday celebrated in our country, starting with the global and historical context, then honing in on the pilgrims’ search for a land where they could worship freely.
The story begins with the root of it all: Jesus Christ. The timeline continues from there through the centuries, touching on key events like the establishment of the Magna Carta in the 13th century, the first English translation of the entire Bible in the late 14th century, the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century that made Bibles affordable for the common people, and the Reformation in the 16th century that sparked different branches within the church.
After this overview, attendees proceed through six sequential stations in groups of about two dozen to keep the experience more intimate and immersive. Every guest is given a “family name” for the duration of the event so that they can be more engaged in the storytelling that takes place on each set, where costumed actors perform skits that bring to life landmark moments in the pilgrims’ journey from religious persecution in Europe to freedom in the New World. The stations give glimpses into the birth of the congregation in Scrooby, England, during the early years of the 17th century, then the escape to the Netherlands, the ocean crossing, and the establishment of Plymouth Colony in New England. Throughout the event, the program shows God’s hand at work in the unfolding circumstances as the foundations were laid for the greatest republic the world has ever known.
Although Thanksgiving Exposed is a free event, there is limited space, so registration in the form of tickets is required. This year’s tickets were all snapped up within a week of when Dayspring Christian Academy started promoting the event. For those who missed out, there is always next year — the annual event takes place on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and registration usually opens at the beginning of October at dayspringchristian.com/thanksgiving-exposed. Donations are never requested but are greatly appreciated, and they can be made either in person on the night of the show or through the website.
Dayspring Christian Academy’s efforts to teach people about the history of Thanksgiving go beyond the November event. The school’s director of STEM education, Mary Stauffer, has researched and taught on the true story of America’s pilgrims for years, and now she and her colleagues have condensed all of that knowledge into an online course, The Pilgrim Story. The self-paced, customizable curriculum for 3rd to 6th grade students draws from historical, primary-source documents and delves into the history of Thanksgiving and also the roots of the United States and our form of government. In addition to lessons, the online course includes tests and quizzes, audio files, slides, PDF downloads, and both hands-on and online-based activities that can be adjusted to meet the needs of a broad range of ages. The curriculum is available at courses.dayspringchristian.com for parents, homeschool families, teachers and other educational networks that would like to incorporate it into their lesson plans.
Through Thanksgiving Exposed and The Pilgrim Story, Dayspring Christian Academy is helping more people celebrate Thanksgiving as well as the rich heritage of our nation, thereby ensuring that the important lessons of our past will not be forgotten.