We all know the routine: Baste turkey, hug relatives and watch football. But the Thanksgiving holiday – and the opportunity it provides to reflect on what we value – should never become routine. To help remind us what Thanksgiving is all about, we presented 50 disposable cameras to students at Northlake Elementary and gave the youngsters this assignment: Show us what you’re thankful for. A week later, we had the results. While every child offered a unique perspective, some common themes emerged. Picture after picture featured the smiling, teasing or caught-off-guard faces of the important people in their lives. Mom and Dad. Best friends. Brothers and sisters. Grandparents. Teachers. The youngsters also paid tribute to furry or finned friends, with plenty of shots of pets looking their best. The children also turned their lenses on the places that give them joy: home, school and church. And they gave thanks for the natural wonders of our neighborhood: flowers, trees, birds and White Rock Lake. Finally, they showed gratitude for material things such as food, books, computers and toys.

Northlake teacher Maurie Capps, who helped us coordinate this assignment, expressed pride in how well her students handled their task, which she tied to lessons about writing and careers. “They really showed their maturity,” Capps says.

In November, the students will use their photos to create poster board collages that will be displayed at school. On the following pages, you’ll find examples of the wonderful photos we received.

In fact, an exhibit of these photos and others taken by the students will be displayed at several neighborhood locations during the upcoming months – watch the Advocate for details.

This project wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Doctors Hospital, Flash-Back Photography and State Farm Insurance – Annette Stone, who helped pay for the students’ cameras and photo development. And to all the Northlake students and teachers who pitched in, the Advocate has this to say: Thank you.

Betsy Campbell, fourth grade – Betsy was playing outside with her buddy, Cammy Eckel, when inspiration struck. “She was just sliding, and I said ‘Stay there, and I’ll take your picture.’” Always a good sport, Cammy played along and propped herself up on the slide for the impromptu photo shoot.

Nathan Oehring, fifth grade – No self-esteem problems here: Nathan decided to include a self-portrait in his assignment. Says Nathan: “I’m thankful for myself.”

Clair Song, second grade – This oh-so-shy youngster is Richard, Clair’s 4-year-old brother. Says Clair: “I say ‘make a funny face’ and I take the picture in the car while my mommy is driving.” Richard is Clair’s only sibling, and she says she enjoys playing with him.

Caitlin Burns, fourth grade – “Oh my gosh, I hope it’s not my dad asleep,” was Caitlin’s reaction when she found out one of her photos would be published in the Advocate. Caitlin was a bit worried that her father, Robert Burns, would be less than thrilled about sharing his naptime with our readers. “OK,” she decided. “You can put it in the magazine, but don’t put it on the cover.” We obliged, Caitlin, and we’re betting that Dad will be so pleased by your admiration that he’ll overlook your candid-camera style.

Angel Coleman, second grade – The subject here is the flowers – not little sis Ricca, who wandered into the frame. Says Angel: “That’s my mama’s flowers, and my sister got in the way.” (Ricca later got her chance to be the star when Angel took some family pictures.) Angel says “flowers are my favorite things” and was glad that her photo would be seen by Advocate readers. Says Angel: “They might like flowers, too.”

Princess Ere, second grade – Princess found a willing subject in her big brother, Advent. The 9-year-old proved eager to strut his stuff before the camera’s eye. And, as always, he found an adoring audience in his little sister. Princess says she is grateful for her brother and had a good time capturing his “funny” poses.

Kassi Jackson, second grade – Kassi was out sick during the week we visited Northlake, but a peek inside her classroom journal spoke volumes: “I love to play with my puppy,” Kassi wrote on one of the many pages devoted to drawings and stories about Sheeva.

Daniel Rooker, fifth grade – Daniel loves football – playing it and watching it. He decided to show his dedication to the sport by featuring his Spring Valley Athletic Association team uniform.

Will Davis, fourth grade – Will took his photos of Park Cities Baptist Church in a flash. Mom told him they couldn’t stay long, so he hurriedly took what he could from where they were walking to the car. Will says he is grateful for the church that he has attended since “like before I was born, my parents attended.”

Samantha Scrivener, fourth grade – Getting Sylvester and Tweety to pose wasn’t as easy as it looks, Samantha says. Sylvester’s long arms and big paws made it hard to pair him with the smaller Tweety, who wound up being propped up just so for the photo. She shot them because “I’ve always wanted a Sylvester and Tweety, and we were (playing games) at this place, Dave and Buster’s. My mom shared her tickets with me so we could get them.

Melissa Howell, second grade – Melissa captured her little brother, 5-year-old Scotty, at home in his “big bunk bed that looks like a fort” as he played around with a favorite toy sword. Says Melissa: “I think it’s kind of funny that he’s going to show up in a magazine with his jam-jams on.”