Nampa’s Endeavor Elemental rotates to keep holiday traditions alive
NAMPA – The Endeavor Elementary intercom came back to life just before 6pm last Wednesday, static smoothing into a classic “Home for the Holidays” by Perry Como.
Cars crossed the parking lot and ended up on the street, causing a traffic jam that would delay Victory Road for hours as parents awaited their trip through the school’s “Polar Express”.
Endeavor, a Title I school near Nampa Municipal Airport, typically celebrates the holidays with a Polar Express celebration on school day. Students wear pajamas to school, eat cookies and hot chocolate in class, read and listen to a version of the book told by Liam Neeson. In most years, children receive shoe boxes filled with small gifts and essentials wrapped up by students at Lake Ridge Elementary School.
When the Nampa School District decided to go fully online after Thanksgiving, a new tradition was born. Staff have concocted a way to recreate their holiday celebration outdoors, behind the wheel. Each grade level decorated an outdoor pavilion like a themed train car, and costumed staff handed out gifts to students through the windows of their parents’ car. Community businesses donated thousands of dollars to pay for additional freebies, and Wednesday’s gift bags contained fast food books and gift cards, t-shirts, socks and toothbrushes, as well as a special gift chosen by teachers. Kindergarten Girls Have Dolls, Professor Kris Szymanski said, and the boys have Lego sets.
Families were greeted by a “conductor” at the start and received a ticket to vote for their favorite exhibit. They paraded in front of a cane train car and another filled with toys; met elves and Whos from Whooville and even a masked Santa who quizzed them about their favorite displays.
“Do you remember me, Santa Claus?” cried a little boy through his window.
“It’s awesome,” the parents said as they passed, some with cars filled only in the knee room, still others in construction neon after a full day’s work. As they chatted with the teachers, parents’ praise mingled with questions about schoolwork.
Staff danced to Christmas tunes to avoid the cold, applauding when students in their classes retired.
The fifth-year team swarmed cars in a group, jumping and screaming as they raced towards each car.
“Fifth graders hate it when we do this,” said Professor Kiersten Rood mischievously.
“I miss seeing you every day!” they shouted. “Discover our unicorn!” “Vote for the fifth year!”
The energetic team won the vote for 2nd student, Christopher, who loved the huge snowman the teachers built from boxes.
Third-grade Georgia preferred the Grinch-themed booth where first-grade teachers dressed up as Whos. Professor Tersa McCarty spent over an hour arranging a mug in her hair as part of an extravagant Cindy Loo Who costume. She stumbled through the slush in a tutu, rushing to an outdoor heater to warm up during the traffic lulls.
“It’s so cool. We can experience it with the whole family,” McCarty said.
“… Any time with them is worth a frozen toe.”
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