Local schools are alive with holiday cheer this season, dedicating the days leading up to winter break to spreading cheer for all to hear.
Nearly all schools in the Mahoning Valley sang Christmas carols on what normally would’ve been a silent night.
But with each traditional holiday celebration of classroom parties and goodie days, certain schools stand out with their holiday programs.
Columbiana schools hosted an array of events including a misfit toy project, a trip to Main Street Theater, a preschool family fun day and a gingerbread man baking day.
Kim Sharshan, principal of Joshua Dixon Elementary School, said celebrating the holidays with students is a learning opportunity.
“I believe it’s important to teach about holidays in a meaningful way where students understand other cultures and traditions, which enables them to respect another’s heritage,” Sharshan said. “In school, we do this through stories, music and art.”
Some schools honed in for the season of giving. Specifically, Youngstown City Schools hosted a coat drive at Wilson Elementary for students in need of some warmer winter wear.
The coat drive, said Twon Ahart, president of City Kids Care, was simply to give students a chance to be warm this winter.
“Some families just don’t have the money in their budget,” he said. “This is a way to ease the burden for families.”
Being in the position to help gives Ahart a good feeling.
“I was not always as fortunate as I am now,” he said. “I hope others see this generosity and start to reach out to keep things like this [coat drive] going.”
“Having Red Zone and City Kids Care is just amazing,” said Jennifer Walker, Wilson principal.
Walker said in the last two weeks the partnership allowed the district to provide families in need with a stove, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, money for an overdue water bill, clothes and more.
“The need is just overwhelming,” Walker said. “It’s nice and rewarding to be able to help. We are just doing the best we can.”
Marshell Freeman, a YCS social worker, echoed Walker’s sentiment.
“I’m just grateful and happy to see something like this,” she said. “There’s a whole lot of need, and we are just getting started.”
Poland schools also participated in the season of giving.
Dobbins Elementary students continued a decade-old tradition of collecting items for a “Giving Tree,” decorated with scarves, hats and gloves for children in need. Third- and fourth-grade students began collecting items at the beginning of December and ended up collecting enough to fill six bags and five boxes. Also included in the donations were 21 winter coats.
The donations went to Mahoning County Children Services.
“I can tell you all the coats, hats, gloves and all the winter apparel so tremendously impacts our agency,” said Children Services spokeswoman Jennifer Kollar. “We’re able to give new coats, hats and gloves to kids who are the most vulnerable and at-risk kids in the county.”
“This gift is really the gift of keeping children warm and cozy throughout the holiday season and throughout the entire year,” Kollar added.
“Each year, our students look forward to our community service projects, and we look forward to the smiles on their faces when they bring the warm clothes up to the trees,” said Dobbins Principal Mike Daley.
Poland students also had some musical celebrations.
The Poland Seminary High School Concert Choir and a cappella ensemble Harmonically Speaking performed at Holy Family with the PSHS bands. The ensemble also spread some holiday cheer last week with performances at several retirement homes, The Lake Club and Dobbins Elementary.
Canfield schools’ Art Club collected coloring books and crayons for Akron Children’s Hospital, gifts for families and children in need in Canfield and canned goods for Second Harvest and sold Salvation Army tags.
Canfield Superintendent Alex Geordan said celebrating the holidays in Canfield is, in total, a family event.
“When most think of holidays, they think of family, and in the Canfield Local Schools, we see our students and staff as our own extended family,” he said. “It’s not just the three R’s. We extend the educational process to include holidays around the globe.”
The three R’s in education are reading, writing and arithmetic.
In Boardman, students celebrated the holidays in a variety of ways.
At the high school, students celebrated with a spirit week, a holiday pajamas day and an ugly-sweater day.
At Glenwood Junior High, the week leading up to Christmas break started with a holiday PJ’s day, then continued with ugly sweaters and culminated in a head-to-toe holiday dress-up day. Students donned elf ears and Santa hats, shirts and socks.
At Center Intermediate, the Parent-Teacher Association hosted a holiday breakfast for teachers, and students there competed in an ugly-sweater contest.