Four hundred and ninety-two students and family members, most in pajamas, turned out for the first-ever Pajama-Rama parent involvement night Dec. 6 at Button Gwinnett Elementary.
“I have never in my career seen so many parents and students turn out for any school event the way they did last night,” Assistant Principal Delores Crawford said in an email to the staff after the event.
Curriculum coordinator Beverly Faircloth — with her husband, Rick, on guitar — led the crowd in singing traditional Christmas carols.
“Although there was a long line at the sign-in table, we decided to begin the sing-along on time,” Faircloth said. “We began the program and they just kept coming.”
As the crowd finished the final chorus of “Here Comes Santa Claus,” the faint sound of jingle bells could be heard. Gasps of delight rippled through the crowd as Santa and Mrs. Claus, played by James and Tory Baker, made their entrance. Santa reminded the children that he was making a list and checking it twice, then lit the school’s 9-foot tree as the crowd counted down.
Mrs. Claus, Crawford and Faircloth shared Christmas bedtime stories with the children during the sing-along before the crowd moved to the cafeteria for hot chocolate with marshmallows and sugar cookies.
Tables were lined with paper and crayons so children could write letters to place in Santa’s mailbox. Principal Mary Guiendon photographed more than 111 families posing for pictures with Santa.
“I am constantly amazed at the dedication and cooperation of our BGE parents,” the principal said.
Students and parents also brought in nonperishable food items for those in need. The collection began in early December, and school counselor Frednell Walthour said the students brought in enough to help about 35 local families.
“The administrators, BGE volunteers and parents continue to be amazed at the record turnout,” Faircloth said. “To see that many people at one event was astounding. Even with that size crowd, everyone was patient, and it was wonderful to see parents and grandparents pitching in with school volunteers to help serve the hot chocolate and cookies to the students.”