The grounds of Lyman Hall Elementary on Thursday night were packed tighter than a mall parking lot on Black Friday as parents and children huddled for warmth near the school’s entrance in anticipation of the annual Christmas Ornament Extravaganza.
As the crowd shuffled in, Principal Claire Blanchard beamed at the children who scrambled to their seats at crafts stations in the cafeteria.
“I love this because it is a time for parents to come in. It’s just a wonderful family time,” Blanchard said, embracing students who came up to her for hugs. “It is a good way to start out the season.”
Students spread sparkles and glue over various reindeer, Santa and Christmas tree creations while instrumental holiday music floated through the air.
Parent Brandy Sulewski attended the event with her fourth-grade son, Gabin. Sulewski waited in line with a younger child for a photo with Santa as Gabin decorated ornaments.
“[This event] just shows that they care about making school fun for the children as well as provide an education,” she said.
Although the event was free, Blanchard asked parents to bring Christmas desserts and goodies to share with the other attendees.
Dozens of frosted cookies, brownies, candy canes and colorful cupcakes tempted guests who waltzed past the sign-in table and illuminated Christmas tree.
The principal said 15 teacher volunteers supervised students at the craft stations, helping them create all kinds of Christmas ornaments. High school students also assisted children with spreading glue and glitter.
Third-grade teacher Doris Wood assisted students by bending sparkly pipe cleaners into the shape of evergreen trees.
“I love the festive holiday season,” she said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday. This season brings out the good in everyone.”
Parent involvement coordinator Lavonia LeCounte coordinated most of the activities, something she said she looks forward to every December.
“Seeing the parents come and the family and seeing them together — that’s just a burst of joy,” LeCounte said. “So many families can’t sit down and do something around the table. We provide a family event [so they can do so].”
The event kept parents and staff busy until about 7 p.m., but most of the students didn’t seem to mind staying at school later than usual.
Sisters Isabel and Charlotte Pruytt waited in line with their aunt to have a photo taken with Santa Claus.
Both couldn’t wait to tell Santa what they want for Christmas and said they love the holiday season.
“My favorite part is when you decorate and have fun,” Isabel Pruytt said of the holiday season, “and to get lots of presents.”