Local schools share holiday spirit with community

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published December 22, 2017

 On Dec. 20, Santa Claus paid a visit to students enrolled in the Kennedy Early Childhood Center in Van Dyke Public Schools. Throughout the Christmas season, local staff and students found a number of ways to give others a happier holiday.

On Dec. 20, Santa Claus paid a visit to students enrolled in the Kennedy Early Childhood Center in Van Dyke Public Schools. Throughout the Christmas season, local staff and students found a number of ways to give others a happier holiday.

Photo provided by Jessica Mooney, of Van Dyke Public Schools

WARREN/CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS — Local school districts delivered good cheer to others this month as they shared the spirit of the holiday season. 

Through Christmas concerts, food drives, penny wars and school-wide activities, students and staff in Warren, Center Line and Sterling Heights provided a merrier Christmas to others who suffered hardships in 2017.

Community members who lost loved ones, fell on difficult times financially or dealt with illness found they had some of Santa’s elves looking out for them. Schools also celebrated the holidays as well. 

For starters, the Warren Woods Public Schools community opened its heart to care for needy families in the way of giving trees, monetary collections and by “adopting” families for which to provide presents in 2017. Enterprise Alternative High School, for example, got together to provide a ham for a family, while the Early Childhood Center collected for Toys for Tots. 

Briarwood Elementary School continued its “Cookies and Cakes” tradition fundraiser where baked goods were available for sale and baskets were raffled off to raise money for a nonprofit organization. Principal Christine Walter said the proceeds from the event benefit a different charity each year.

Over in Van Dyke Public Schools, a number of families enjoyed a Christmas party Dec. 15 at Lincoln High School, courtesy of the LHS student council. The event is held annually, and as in past years, social workers from each building provided the names of two or three needy families to attend the festivities.

The student council took it from there. During the evening, members served dinner, played games with the younger students, did crafts and read stories. Parents also picked out presents for their children. 

“The student council members work really hard on this event each year,” LHS student council advisor and special education teacher John McCabe said in an email. “It’s always been a point of pride for them.”  

It was time to party Dec. 13 at Carlson Elementary School when Santa Claus visited the school’s two Physically or Otherwise Health Impaired classes. In addition, a few families sponsored the students with crafts and gifts. 

The good tidings continued in Van Dyke when LHS and Lincoln Middle School students performed their “Christmas Around the World” concert earlier this month inside the Van Dyke Community Auditorium. Instead of admission, choir teacher Lisa Papas said audience members were asked to bring at least one nonperishable food item for the Warren Goodfellows to help local needy families.

The giving continued in Fitzgerald Public Schools, as students in the Fitzgerald High School Multicultural Club held a toiletry drive for Freedom House. The kindergarten students who attend the Schofield Early Childhood Center created holiday cards to cheer up patients at a local hospital.

Center Line Public Schools played Santa Claus in a number of ways. The Early Childhood Center will keep others warm this winter with a coat drive held in a partnership with the Salvation Army.

Staff members at some CLPS school buildings found a casual way to raise money. On certain days, each time an employee wore blue jeans, he or she had to hand over some of their loose change. Money collected was used to buy gift cards to various stores, which were given to families in the district.  

Canned goods, hats, scarves, mittens and toys also were collected to give to those who otherwise would do without. Members of the central administration provided more than $1,000 in cash and gift cards to help a district family whose father died of cancer last year.

While many of the Center Line activities assisted families within the district, a few projects also helped support local shelters, including the Salvation Army and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, students in Steven Martines’ building and design class at Wolfe Middle School sold candy cane grams so they could adopt an endangered animal. 

In 2017, Warren Consolidated Schools continued its tradition of honoring the district’s Adopt-A-Family program this Christmas. Staff members — including principals, counselors and social workers — submitted referrals of needy families within the district. 

Each family referral was assigned an anonymous name to guarantee privacy. Employees were given the opportunity to adopt a district family by purchasing clothes, coats, boots, pajamas, toys, books and more on each family’s wish list. Helping out were school clubs, elementary students and high school leadership classes. By working together, they were able to “adopt” 40 families. 

School officials also partnered with a local church food pantry to provide each family with a holiday meal. All gifts were distributed Dec. 11-15. WCS has participated in the program for more than 20 years.