From making Christmas ornaments and posing with funny props in the photo booth to dancing with Santa Claus and receiving gifts, SWBOCES students and their families had a great time at SEPTA’s sixth-annual Holiday Celebration at the Rye Lake Campus.
Shortly before 5 p.m. on Dec. 20, one of the elves told children they had to make a lot of noise to ensure Santa Claus would stop in. They sang “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” When they finished, Santa came bounding to greet them. They sang and danced together to “Feliz Navidad.”
Santa Claus gave students and their siblings presents, all of which had been donated. Some of this year’s gifts were Mashin’ Max, a game in which players protect their critters from the beast; Bedazzler and lip balm kits; and Connect Four.
About 40 students and their families attended the event. “This is our favorite time of year to celebrate,” said Phyllis Rizzi, Tappan Hill School principal and co-vice president of SEPTA.
Ms. Rizzi said there are many people to thank for putting the celebration together, including Annette Sansone, a teacher’s aide with SWBOCES who obtains gift donations. “She’s dedicated. She gets a lot of joy from seeing happiness in children’s faces,” Ms. Rizzi said.
The executive board also thanks teacher Erroll Rivera (Santa Claus); elves Kathleen Knudsen, Linda Christiansen and Penny Dickenson (teachers); elves Kate Banfield and Sara Calderon (SWBOCES students and daughters of SEPTA members); Leah Harris, a teacher’s assistant at Tappan Hill; Kevin McSweeney, SWBOCES technology facilitator; art teachers Ariel Farber and Claire Ballantyne; Susan Doherty, a retired SWBOCES speech pathologist; Tappan Hill mom Cynthia Zac; and physical education teachers Diane Storm and Joseph Racioppo.
“It was very successful,” said SEPTA President Trish Banfield, whose other daughter, Paige, and her friend, Brian Morgan, ran the photo booth at the party. “A lot of kids enjoyed themselves.”
Children and adults posed with props in the photo booth, holding signs that said “Naughty,” “Nice” and “North Pole,” along with fake mustaches and a “Frosty the Snowman” head. They played a “snowball” toss game, bowled, and challenged themselves to see how many cups they could stack in a pyramid.
“I really like the SEPTA parties,” said Christine Varon, whose son, Derek, is in the SWBOCES program at Farragut Middle School in Hastings-on-Hudson.
Ms. Varon said her son has been with SWBOCES for a few years and she thinks the teachers are “brilliant. They give so much attention to him.”
The Special Education PTA raised money through a 50/50 raffle and with a raffle for donated gifts, including Xbox one/Minecraft and gift cards. Mr. Racioppo donated the money he won in the 50/50 raffle to the SEPTA.