MVHS Advanced Drama class hosts annual Santa’s Workshop
Behind the scenes of Santa’s Workshop – the holiday event hosted for the children of teachers and staff on campus
The air is frigid and uninviting at first, but as teachers, staff and their families fill the bus circle, the atmosphere warms with excitement and anticipation. While some children run up and down the sidewalk, others wait by the road, scanning the street for flashing lights and a man with a white beard.
They’re waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. After what feels like an eternity, he does, and in an untraditional sleigh: a fire truck. The crowd erupts in cheers, and their eyes follow the bright flashing red lights as the fire truck turns into the bus circle.
He’s hard to see, but once the truck stops and the blinding red lights are turned off, the children get a glimpse of a man, sitting shotgun in a lumpy red suit, pulling on a red hat and adjusting his belt as he steps out of the truck.
And so begins the Santa Workshop, a tradition that takes place every year and allows teachers and staff to bring their children to meet Santa, receive presents and engage in a number of holiday themed activities. This year, it took place on Tuesday, Dec. 6th in room F104, and was hosted by MVHS’ Advanced Drama Honors class.
Santa – whose identity was kept secret – leads the children and their families through a line of painted wooden candy canes and into the Black Box, a small room heavily decorated with everything from a Christmas tree to hanging snowflakes. There, Advanced Drama Honors students have dressed up as elves, wearing christmas sweaters and elf ears as they guide the children through different stations set up around the room.
In one corner, an elf throws fake snow in the air, and it rains down onto the children – who dance around and laugh as the small white flakes cling to their clothing and their hair. To the side there’s cookie decorating, and kids smear frosting and dump sprinkles onto plain cookies while simultaneously getting frosting on their faces and fingers – spilling sprinkles onto the table as they do so. And as teachers, staff members and their children walk around the room, they try making dreidels out of marshmallows and pretzels, and playing the snow toss game.
In the center of everything, on the small stage in a monstrous wooden chair and next to the Christmas tree with piles of presents underneath it, is Santa himself. Families line up to take pictures with Santa and receive presents – before the night began, teachers and staff bought and wrapped presents to be given to their children as gifts from Santa.
The event spans a little over an hour, and as the day draws to a close, the student elves begin cleaning up their decorations and stations. According to drama teacher Sara Capule, setting up for the event can take up to two weeks, and culminates in a large family event that hosts between 20 and 30 kids and their families.
But to the Drama students, the event means much more. It’s a time for them to step away from the increasing stress they experience as a result of final exams soon approaching, and allows them to entertain and have fun.
“It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in class all year,” senior Alissa Dernetz said. “Personally, [the event] doesn’t [give us] a lot of pressure. The only deadline we have is getting all the decorations up in time.There’s no blocking to memorize, no lines to memorize, there’s nothing significant for us.”
Dernetz’s classmates echo her sentiments, sharing how they felt like they should take the chance to work with the children and share the holiday spirit. For Junior Stephanie Mullen, the event allows her to feel more positive and happy energy, in contrast to the constant stressful energy one often feels at MVHS.
“It’s a different kind of energy,” Mullen said. “Like at [MVHS], [the children] bring all this energy that we’re not used to, and it’s refreshing.”
And with this energy, the elves are filled with excitement and contentment, socializing with the children and bringing laughter and smiles wherever they go. For a couple hours, they don’t have to think about upcoming tests or any struggles they may have – they can be kids again, bringing holiday spirit to the ones that believe in it most.
After the event was over, as only one drama family of elves still remained in the Black Box and as the last of the fake snowflakes fluttered down around the students, a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment filled the room.
“At least for us, [the event] shows that teachers are also human,” junior Jaremi Kalkowski said. “They’re not just robots that grade. But [the event] also gets to spread a little holiday spirit and kindness among others.”