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Westfield elementary students get into the holiday spirit

WESTFIELD — “Maybe Christmas, he thought doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more,” said the narrator in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

There were no grinches at Westfield Academy and Central School, save the cardboard ones decorating the walls, but there was plenty of Christmas spirit present as elementary students celebrated the season with their traditional themes of Whoville and the Polar Express.

Despite all of the adjustments required because of the COVID pandemic — students, teachers and elementary principal Dr. Mary Rockey decorated the halls, had cookies and cocoa with lunch and visited the Whoville and Polar Express stations for Christmas pictures.

“One of the greatest things is that they are being kids,” Rockey said. “In the midst of all this craziness, they are still being kids. That’s why it’s our obligation to keep things as normal as possible.”

While the pandemic caused certain alterations to be made in the elementary students’ Christmas celebration, Rockey explained, the staff tried to maintain traditional practices.

Normally, the school alternates between the themes of the Polar Express and Whoville from year to year, with many fun activities and a group movie, she said. This year, however, since group activities could not be held, both themes were set up in the hallways so the children could choose their photo background.

“Kids could come throughout the day to get their pictures taken,” Rockey said. “Everybody had cookies and cocoa, too, but we couldn’t have one movie for everyone.”

In the past, students helped with the cookies, which are purchased unbaked at an establishment in Erie, Rockey said. This year, the cafeteria staff baked and decorated all of the cookies, she said.

Rockey gave credit for the success of the festivities to PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) committee members Aryle Goss, Ashley Raynor and Deann Shelters who spearheaded plans for this years activities and worked with the cafeteria staff.

Despite the changes, there was no lack of laughter and holiday enthusiasm, both in the hallways and the classrooms. Children watched a variety of age-appropriate Christmas movies in their classrooms, played games and listened to Christmas music. “It is a little different this year but I think they’re still haveing a lot of fun,” Rockey said.

Rockey noted that children seem to roll with the changes better than adults. “It differs based on each child,” she said. “It has to to with resiliency and most of them are very resilient.”

Judging by the spirit shown by WACS elementary students, the Grinch’s final thoughts about Christmas were certainly confirmed: it came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags.

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