Thoreau Society Bicentennial Celebration of Henry David Thoreau

St. Benedict Catholic School, Garfield Heights, OH

A Whole Year of Thoreau Bicentennial Programming at the St. Benedict Catholic School

THEME:  Sauntering the Year with Henry David Thoreau

QUOTE FOR THE YEAR:  “If I am not I, who will be?”  (Focus on the acceptance of individuality and development of unique gifts.)


Morning announcements will include a fact and quote from Henry David Thoreau once a week.  Teachers will discuss the meaning of the quote during the week with their students.


(All lessons will be adapted by teachers according to grade level of students.)


SEPTEMBER:  Kickoff in the gym; students “meet” Henry David Thoreau who tells a little about himself and what the year will bring. Henry will lead the students in a mile hike around the baseball fields.  Students return to school for a watermelon party. Students throughout the month will learn biographical information about Thoreau.


OCTOBER:  At least one lesson during the month will focus on “Following the beat of a different drummer.”  Students will learn that it is good to be different and to celebrate their uniqueness and not follow the crowd.  Each student will receive a drum to color with Thoreau’s drummer quote on it.  They will write ways they are unique and how they will develop that uniqueness.


NOVEMBER:  Students will dare to dream.  Discuss meaning of Thoreau’s dream quote.  “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”  Students will discuss and contemplate what their dreams for themselves are and how they can begin putting the “foundations” under them.  Sheets with Thoreau’s quote will be hung around school with student’s dreams.  Primary grades will use pictures to illustrate their dreams.


DECEMBER:  Discuss some Thoreau quotes on reading.  Students will focus on the importance of reading.  A time slot will be fit into the schedule for all students to read silently at the same time during the school day once a week.  (Friday during assembly schedule?)


JANUARY:  Focus on conservation and the environment.  Learn about Thoreau’s importance to ecology and conservation.  Science teachers in every grade level will teach an ecology/conservation lesson.


FEBRUARY:  Students will celebrate Black History Month and focus on Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” “Plea for John Brown,” and “Slavery in Massachusetts.”    Discuss Thoreau’s influence on Ghandi and Martin Luther King.  Learn about Thoreau’s concern about social justice and work as an abolitionist.  Of course, this will be adapted according to grade level.


MARCH:  Students will focus on the beauty of the seasons and the natural world.  They will read selections from Thoreau’s descriptions of the seasons including the composition he wrote when he was very young; students will write their own vivid descriptions of their favorite season. Primary grades will draw pictures.


APRIL: Students will attempt to see things in a new way; students will be taken to the field to find one object from nature (leaf, rock, flower, weed, etc.; Students will  read  examples Thoreau’s detailed way of describing items in a unique and very detailed way.  They will be show his sketches for some of his descriptions.   Similarly, they will write a detailed description and do a drawing of their item from nature imitating Thoreau.



MAY:  AN AFTERNOON WITH HENRY DAVID THOREAU—students will end the year as they began it; they will saunter around the baseball field and return to the gym where the final program of the bicentennial will be given.  This program will also be open to the public on May 12, 2017.