By ABBY SLANKER
St. Charles School students in Patti Bartholomew’s kindergarten class took a whirlwind trip to Disney World without ever leaving their classroom April 22.
Bartholomew’s 25th annual journey to Disney World lets the children use their imaginations as they ‘travel’ to visit the house of mouse.
Their day started before they even got to school because each student had to pack a suitcase to take with them on their trip. The students each brought a suitcase full of items they would need to travel to Disney.
Once they arrived at school, parent volunteers drove the children to the Pittsburgh International Airport — the school’s parking lot. They received luggage tags and checked the flight schedule. They were given a passport and a plane ticket, to which they had to match their seat number on the plane, located in their classroom, once they boarded.
Once the students were seated on the ‘plane,’ they watched the in-flight safety video before taking off. The students simulated taking off in the plane and once they were airborne, were shown a Disney in-flight movie.
“I tie the subjects we are studying into this fun event. For example, the students must read directions throughout the day and must know their directions — north, south, east and west — which we covered in social studies. They also use their math skills throughout the trip with counting and practice writing with letter printing,” Bartholomew said.
As they flew the friendly skies, the students were served a snack by parent-volunteer stewardesses and stewards, which was Disney-themed and consisted of a Mickey Mouse cut-out sandwich, Disney fruit snacks, fruit and a ‘wand’ made of mini carrots with black olives on the ends. The students were also presented with flight wings to pin on their shirts.
When the plane landed and the students disembarked the plane in Florida, they were presented with their Disney park passes and a glass of orange juice to remind them the juice is a staple of the state.
“Welcome to Disney!” Bartholomew told the students. “It is 81 degrees and we thank you for being such good passengers on the flight.”
At the ‘park,’ students had several activity stations to choose from, including making a sand castle, painting a fish, playing a Mickey game, making a shark tooth necklace, decorating cookies, making wands, and, of course, making their own personalized Mickey Mouse ears.
Once the students were done exploring the ‘park,’ they went to their ‘hotel’ and unpacked their suitcases, which held beach towels and pajamas.
The students then went back to the ‘park’ for the laser light show. Bartholomew showed the children a video of the actual Disney park laser light show. The children also brought their flashlights and put on their own laser light show.
The students then enjoyed a popsicle snack and then packed up to go home. The students traveled back home by rubbing the genie lamp.
“It’s a lot easier getting home. We use Disney magic,” Bartholomew said.
As a special souvenir of the day, Bartholomew gave each student a live goldfish to take home. She also gave each student a bucket and shovel to represent the Florida beach.
“The subject of the animals in the ocean is something we cover in our science studies. The kids then take their goldfish home in the bucket they received. We also cover religion with the fish and how our faith teaches us to take care of living things. We also prayed to God for a good day and a safe flight with our friends,” Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew said there is another purpose for this great annual event.
“We have several family members here today helping with our trip. This gives the families an opportunity to get to know one another, as their children will be in school together for years to come. It gives them a chance to socialize with the children and the children’s families. At St. Charles there is a wonderful family feeling…we are a school family,” Bartholomew said.
As an added bonus and another great souvenir of Disney Day, Bartholomew provided postcards for the children to write to their families while on their ‘trip’ and she then mailed the postcards to the students’ homes.