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Elf Kathleen Knudsen, a teacher at SWBOCES’ Tappan Hill School, had good news and bad news for the guests at the seventh annual Holiday Celebration Dec. 20. The good news was Santa Claus was on his way to the party.
“But there’s a little bit of bad news,” she said. “I have heard from Santa that there’s been a lot of negativity this year. So bad, that if you look at our chart right here, our Spirit Meter, we are not even up to ‘blah la la la la.’ We have no spirit this year yet, and if we want Santa to come, we have to change this.”
They started singing in order to boost the Spirit Meter. When they got to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” he danced into the Rye Lake Campus auditorium and starting greeting boys and girls. He then transitioned to “Feliz Navidad” and started a conga line to get everyone dancing.
Dozens of students and their families attended the event. In addition to Santa’s visit and gift-giving, there were stations for decorating cupcakes, tossing “snowballs” and fishing for candy canes, and a photo booth with funny props and signs that said “naughty” and “nice.”
“Every kid gets a gift. That’s really nice,” said Karin Kulsar of White Plains, whose daughter Haley attends Tappan Hill School.
Haley – a book lover – received “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” from Santa. Other presents this year included a Paw Patrol Pop Up Game, a Little People train and a Disney Princess doll.
The Special Education PTA raised money through a 50/50 raffle and with a raffle for donated gifts, including an iPad and an Echo Dot. Six-year-old Cedric Zak of Hastings won two prizes: a Cynoculars Virtual Reality Headset and an iPad.
Cedrik said he was excited to receive both gifts, but especially the iPad because he has an old model. He likes to play Disney Crossy Road, Road Blocks and other games on the computer.
Twelve-year-old R.J. James of Peekskill won $80 in the 50/50 raffle. He wasn’t sure what he was going to buy with the money, but he has plenty of interests. Some of the items on his Christmas list included Thomas the Tank, Paw Patrol and Sponge Bob toys. He also likes Sonic the Hedgehog. “He’s fast,” R.J. said.
SEPTA is grateful to Annette Sansone, a SWBOCES teacher aide, and her family, who purchased the gifts for all the children. “Their generosity is amazing,” SEPTA President Trish Banfield said.
Ms. Banfield said SEPTA is thankful for the help of Tappan Hill Principal Phyllis Rizzi, a co-vice president or the group, and her staff in making this year’s event so great.
“Many people gave their time to help make the party extra special for our kids,” Ms. Banfield said. “They are so dedicated, and they were happy to be there. We are so grateful for their kindness and generosity.”
Others who helped with the event include Tappan Hill teacher Erroll Rivera (Santa Claus); teachers Kathleen Knudsen, Linda Christiansen and Penny Dickenson (elves); SWBOCES students Kate Banfield and Sara Calderon (elves); and SWBOCES Technology Facilitator Kevin McSweeney (singing and playing guitar).