‘Santa’ is Everywhere!

 

While the ‘man in the red suit’ certainly adds to the excitement of the Christmas season, our community knows that bringing joy and being Santa to others can’t be left to him at this, or any time of the year. The reason for this season gives me hope, direction and purpose! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with loved ones this week.

Jenison High School students participated in some pretty outstanding events this month.  Keep reading to learn more about how the students have been busy spreading good cheer!

Thespian Santa Breakfast, November 24

What began 8 years ago as a way to offer a more intimate and affordable Santa experience, has turned into tradition for many local families. For about the price of a mall photo (without the fun of the usual long, boring line); a whole family is able to enjoy being served a pancake breakfast and a variety of other fun activities sponsored by Mr. Todd Avery and the Jenison High School Thespian Troupe.

The Thespian students do a great job taking their roles very seriously and maximizing the authenticity of the experience for their guests. They don their North Pole best, help serve breakfast and do face painting and crafts with the kids. This year, they added a fun story time; and last but not least, kids got a magical experience as they lingered during a relaxing visit with Santa (where he knew their names before they even approached him!) Photos courtesy of Larry Treece Photography.

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Santa’s Woodshop, December 18 

When teacher, Dave Albert joined the Jenison Industrial Arts program this year, he brought with him a wonderful holiday tradition. As a class project, his woodshop students built wood rocking chair airplanes for selected families. It was a lovely evening with the talent of the Jenison National Art Honor Society students on display as well. They teamed up to with the woodshop students to paint details on the airplanes and helped transform Mr. Albert’s workshop into a winter wonderland! 

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Santa’s Secret Shoppers, December 20

Long before the snow begins to fly, the elves known as the Jenison National Honors Society, get to work organizing a toy drive and arranging sponsors for families in the community. Often, teachers involve their students to become sponsors to adopt-a-family and complete gift wishlists. The high school students do the bulk of organizing for the event which includes facilitating the collection, organizing toys and shopping should there be cash donations. They arrange a pick up night for the families which also includes gift wrapping materials so they can proudly wrap the gifts! No matter the task, these students are committed to making sure these families have a very merry Christmas! This is the 15th year for this event and we’re so proud that over 90 kids were served by the generosity of our JPS community this year.

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“Secret Santa” Lands Sleigh In Jenison

Santa Sale, Bursley Elementary, Jenison Public SchoolsSchools throughout the district have been sneaking and selling and stacking and wrapping for weeks, giving children in Jenison the opportunity to shop for their loved ones before Christmas.

Last week the students at Bursley elementary had their turn, entering a school gymnasium that had been transformed into a virtual mall by hard-working parent “elves.” With gifts ranging from 25¢ to $5, students could shop at a comfortable price point, all the while participating in the joy that comes from giving.

Jen Postema, Bursley parent and mother of four, heads up the Santa Sale, and says the months of shopping and storing goodies is all worth it when she sees little faces light up.

“This is all for the kids — there are just so many students in our school who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford Christmas gifts. It’s awesome to see them enjoy the experience.”

Working roughly seven months out of the year with help from her co-chair, Tara Manciu, these women begin shopping right away on December 27 to scrounge up the best after-Christmas deals on goodies that might otherwise be priced from $30-$40 in department stores. At Bursley, a school of 450 students, deluxe items like bamboo cheese boards and bubbling foot soakers waited to be snatched up for dimes on the dollar.

Santa Sale, Bursley Elementary, Jenison Public Schools

“I love watching the kids and seeing the excitement that they have. A few years ago we sent out a questionnaire to parents and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. Parents love this. It’s nice that kids can get good items for a great price,” said Tara.

Volunteers help children shop, pay for items, and then ensure that everything gets wrapped and labeled for a true “Secret Santa” delivery. Jen Postema notes that more volunteers are needed for next year, however, with growing class sizes and more kids shopping. There is even talk of re-structuring Santa’s Sale to accommodate the increased foot-traffic and immensity of the undertaking.

Santa Sale, Bursley Elementary, Jenison Public Schools

Santa Sale, Bursley Elementary, Jenison Public SchoolsIn true Christmas charity,Bursley’s Parent Club, who sponsors the event, wants to make certain that all students who want to shop are able to do so. Working closely with Principal Rané Garcia, the parent club was able to set aside $500 in scholarship money this year which was distributed confidentially through the school office.

If you are the recipient of a Santa Sale item this Christmas, will you take the time to thank your child’s parent club for all their hard work? Their efforts help to promote generosity and thoughtfulness in your child and in the hearts of hundreds of students in Jenison Public Schools each year.