By christine keeling
Leonard Kirtz School kids got out of school to spend time with Santa.
More than 60 special-needs students enjoyed food, friends and dancing during the school’s annual holiday party Friday at Highway Tabernacle Church. This year was the first time the event was off-campus.
“A lot of our children don’t get out in the community,” said Mary Jo Nagy, speech therapist at the school. “This helps us work on their communication and behavioral skills.”
The party was attended by the entire school, including its medical staff.
The day out is not a school’s typical field trip, Nagy said.
Santa Claus’s visit brightened the room as he passed out gifts and talked with the children.
Gabi Gallo, 9, of Boardman gently groomed the Pucci Puppy he delivered.
“It’s fun,” said Tracia Collins, 20, of Youngstown, as she showed off the “Shrek The Third” DVD she received.
Christmas gifts and cookies are her favorite things about the holiday, she said.
And though she had no problem choosing chocolate-chip cookies to eat, Dawn McCale, 17, of Youngstown took her time perusing the long table filled with desserts baked by school staff.
Carolann Gordon, 21, of Campbell thought it was “awesome” to get out of school.
The party’s “pretty good,” she said.
She sat on the edge of a packed dance floor waiting to dance with her boyfriend.
Disc jockey Jeff Dunn played party favorites such as “Celebration” for the students, aides and teachers.
“Hopefully we poop them out for the weekend, for their parents,” said Nagy.
The church donated the space for the party, which was paid for through donations.