In the holiday spirit
Once again we are proud to feature our schools – students, staff members, school community members – who have embraced the holiday spirit through numerous projects and initiatives they have undertaken to make this season a little more festive for those in need.
“Paying it forward” is a precedent that is indelibly etched in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ collective psyche. Visit any of our schools or offices at this time of year and you will find that many acts of kindness and generosity are being carried out every day. We celebrate the season and what we hold near and dear in countless ways.
Please join us in thanking all of those who act on their beliefs of sharing the true meaning of giving. Whether your efforts take the form of volunteerism, support for cherished causes, financial donations, or simply being available wherever and whenever you are needed, thank you for your tireless efforts and generous natures.
Keep in mind that these are only a few of the many examples of holiday “cheer” being done individually and collectively to “brighten” the holidays for others. Your efforts are wonderful illustrations of the true meaning of the season and bring inspiration to us all.
A few examples of holiday giving…
The fourth-grade students at Princess Anne Elementary School collected travel-size toiletries for the homeless in the area. The drive began in mid-November and ran through December 16. Among the items collected were toothbrushes, toothbrush holders, soap, soap holders, Germ-X, toothpaste, hand lotion, combs, antiperspirant, tissues, Chapstick, dental floss, mouthwash, shaving cream, washcloths, nail clippers, and shampoo. The goal was to assemble 200 toiletry gift bags. Donations of new socks, scarves, and hats as well as new and gently-used fall and winter clothing were also collected. Fourth-grade teacher and school media liaison Mark Bonney spearheaded the project.
“Baby, it’s cold outside!” Red Mill Elementary School is once again participating in the WAVY-TV 10 "Coats for Kids" drive. The school is collecting gently used coats of any size or type which are being placed in a collection box located in the school foyer. Donations are being accepted through January 2012. Wavy TV-10 and its partner Albano Cleaner are cleaning and distributing all coats. A great way to help keep Hampton Roads a little warmer this winter season!
For the third year in a row, Green Run High School data technician Beth Bailey is spearheading a partnership with the American Red Cross by coordinating a card drive for U.S. soldiers across the world. Students from Green Run submitted holiday cards containing heart-felt messages to service members. In past years, a total of 300 - 350 cards were collected. This year, Bailey challenged the Green Run Stallions to collect 1,000 cards! Through the help of students, faculty, and staff, this goal was reached! The first week of December, just over 1,500 cards were delivered to the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign on behalf of Green Run High School!
Windsor Oaks ElementarySchool’s SCA sponsored a canned food drive which collected over 1,600 food items for the Union Mission Ministries. For each donated item, students were given a ticket which put them in a drawing to be a “pie thrower” for two staff members. Pictured are the staff members who volunteered to be "good sports" and take a pie in the face for a good cause, physical education teacher Scott Hill (left) and physical education assistant Randy Hassell (right).
On Friday, December 16 students from First Colonial (FC) High School visited Seatack Elementary School for its annual Holiday Celebration. First Colonial students have worked hard all year to make a wonderful holiday for Seatack children. For example, the baseball team donated money it raised, the senior class donated the money it was going to use for a senior gift, and many other fundraisers were held during the year to benefit Seatack. All told, FC students raised more than $5,000 to provide Seatack students with presents, Santa, elves, a petting zoo, and music performed by the First Colonial chorus and orchestra. The festivities began at 8:00 a.m. and continued until students departed at 2:30 p.m. Certainly, a wonderful gift from FC students to those at Seatack! Pictured is Santa (aka Doug Thompson, retired FCHS social studies teacher) with one of the Seatack students who took advantage of his opportunity to “talk” to Santa.
|In a tradition that goes back years and years, Princess Anne Elementary School students distributed holiday bags filled with delicious treats for the school's support staff. The goodies were provided by the school's faculty.|
Cox High School's National English Honor Society (NEHS) sponsored a book drive November 16 through December 7, in partnership with the "ForKids" organization, a nonprofit organization which assists “Kids” and provides shelter to local families in the Ocean View neighborhood of Norfolk. NEHS members, along with the student body, faculty, and staff, donated new and gently used books which were sent to the ForKids "store" for parents to "purchase" with vouchers earned by attending parenting classes and therapy sessions. Pictured are two NEHS members Claire B. and Erik M. who are collecting a basket of donated books.
Congratulations to the Red Mill Elementary Dolphins Team. This group of students, teachers, parents and dogs participated in the 33rd Annual SPCA Walk for the Animals. The team walked in memory of Billy Keipe, the son of a former Red Mill teacher. Because of their efforts in raising donations of more than $1,700, they were awarded the "Golden Bone Award" for the Top Elementary School Team.
|The school administration of Glenwood Elementary School shows its holiday spirit at the annual Gator Aid Silent Auction on December 3. Pictured are principal Susan Stuhlman, assistant principal Catrina Manigo, and assistant principal Krista Clark.|
|Lawrence C., a third grader in Mrs. Aperauch's class at Glenwood Elementary School, is interviewed by Kristen Crowley, a reporter from Channel 3 about the cards that students at the school have created and will be sending to military personnel serving overseas during the holiday season.|
There were some “turkeys” roaming the halls at Arrowhead Elementary prior to Thanksgiving. In fact, staff members second-grade teacher Connie Szymanski (left) and office associate Cora Sampson (right) spent the day dressed as turkeys as part of the school's SCA Canned Food Drive. When a student brought in an item, they were able to vote for the staff member that they would most like to see dressed as a turkey. Szymanski and Sampson were the “winners!”
Pembroke Meadows Elementary School held its annual Turkey of the Year event on November 23. Students donated canned food items throughout the month of November to vote for which teacher they wanted to be the turkey. Special education assistant Lena Barone was the “lucky” winner. Dressed as a turkey, she was chased around the cafeteria by a “chef” during lunch periods that day. The canned food items that were collected were donated to the Bayside Lions Club.
Creeds Elementary School's PTA hosted its 6th Annual Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 3 when the “Man in Red” flew in to Creeds Elementary to have breakfast with over 250 people! Attendees enjoyed pancakes and sausage, juice and hot chocolate. The children had an opportunity to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The PTA provided a photo for each family. Students made crafts and shopped at the Holiday Shoppe while parents browsed the wares of local crafters and vendors. Creeds families donated two large boxes of toys for the Toys for Tots program and numerous bags of non-perishable food items for a local food pantry.
|Fifth graders Ireland M. and Kaylin D. are having a great time.|
|Students are pictured with Creeds principal Robin Davenport, aka the “Man in Red” for the day.|
On Saturday at 4 p.m., The Voices of Expression, the fifth-grade chorus at Creeds Elementary School, opened up the celebration of the annual lighting of the Pungo Christmas Tree with a variety of holiday songs. The students performed on Saturday, December 3 at four p.m. and were asked to come back and sing an encore as a finale. They also enjoyed caroling on a hay ride. On Friday, December 9, The Voices of Expression traveled to Norfolk International Airport to perform, all under the direction of music teacher Robyn Alexander.
On Saturday, December 3, Kempsville Elementary hosted its annual PTA-sponsored Santa Breakfast/Scholastic Bookfair/Craft Showcase from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event was a great success, with nearly 400 patrons in attendance. Families enjoyed a hot cakes breakfast with Santa, followed by photos with Santa down Candy Cane Lane. Saturday was the final day for students and families to purchase items from the Scholastic Bookfair and Craft Showcase featuring many local vendors. In addition there was a cake walk, a community toy drive, face painting, Christmas caroling by teachers and staff, an inflatable obstacle course, moon bounce, and games with prizes. All proceeds from the morning's festivities are benefiting various curriculum-centered programs for Kempsville Elementary students throughout the year.
|Santa grabs a few “sweets” to share.|
|Caroling teachers and staff serenade the line servers during Kempsville Elementary’s Santa Breakfast.|
|Families and Santa Claus enjoy hearing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" sung by some of the Kempsville Elementary teachers and staff during the hot cakes breakfast.|
Thirteen “brave” souls volunteered to be stranded on Holland Elementary’s Survivor Island for the good of the community. Faculty, staff, and students at Holland Elementary were all encouraged to vote for their favorite contestant by placing non-perishable goods in their contestant’s box on the cafetorium stage. The contest started on November 14 and ran through December 2. Every day someone was voted off the island if he or she failed to solicit enough canned goods. The sky was the limit on how teachers could encourage people to vote for them. Some made signs, offered homework passes, and others spread the word to parents at various events. It was tough competition to the end but it all came down to fifth-grade teacher Micah Harris and math specialist Jo Ann Coauette. Ultimately, Coauette survived and Harris “waved the white flag.” All told, the school community collected 1,000 canned food items to help the Union Mission. SCA advisor and reading specialist Robin Leach organized this event which was the school’s second annual holiday food drive. Students are pictured with fifth-grade teacher Micah Harris (back row, far left) and math specialist Jo Ann Coauette (back row, far right).
Students at Independence Middle showed their holiday spirit and concern for the community by donating over 700 food items for the school's annual food drive. The drive ran for four weeks, ending on December 7. The school's SCA and National Junior Honor Society sponsored the drive, working in partnership with the Bayside Lions Club. The Lions Club will use the food collected at the school in dinner baskets they are preparing for needy families in the Bayside area of Virginia Beach. Sixth graders in Lisa Hughes' B-day homeroom were motivated to participate in the food drive for two reasons: their concern for helping others after having class discussions on this topic and for the friendly competition that developed between their homeroom and another sixth-grade homeroom class. In the end, Hughes' homeroom collected 260 food items- the most of all homeroom classes in the school.
|Pictured third from left is sixth-grade teacher Lisa Hughes with some of the students from her B-day homeroom at Independence Middle School. The students donated food items during the school's annual food drive, sponsored by the school's SCA and National Junior Honor Society.|
Dental Assisting students from the Technical and Career Education Center and dozens of dental hygienists and assistants from other schools and professional organizations participated in Access Partnership/Oral Health Improvement Coalition and Pankey Institute Dental Access Day at the National Guard Armory in Suffolk on December 2 and 3. All volunteered their time for the charitable event. Dental treatment consisted of cleaning, fillings, and extractions only due to the limited time for each patient. Some patients were able to get flippers, acrylic partial dentures that are used to replace a few missing teeth. Dental assisting students reassured and cared for patients before, during, and after dental procedures. Dental Access Days treated nearly 114 patients, providing services that are estimated to be worth $111,143. The instructor for the class is Annette Kahn.
|The First Colonial High School Nobleteens Sunshine Club participated in the Stuff the Bus with Toys on December 7. Toys collected are being given to children in the community. The goal for this year was 127 and the students came in just short of that with126. Pictured is “Santa” with principal Nancy Farrell at the PTA meeting when he came to collect the toys.|
|Windsor Woods Elementary students and school community teamed up with the Red Cross to make holiday cards for the military on November 29, 30, and December 1. Library media specialist JoAnne Hart helped supervise the students who worked in the school library. Pictured are students working on their cards.|
|Beginning in early November and continuing into December, Ocean Lakes Elementary faculty and staff donated food and presents for families in the community who are in need. This is the eighteenth year that they have participated in this holiday outreach. Pictured is guidance counselor Madeline Day who is preparing to deliver the 17 food baskets to families and well as gifts to eight families.|
|Green Run Elementary staff members Anthony Hill, Sandy Clutter, Caroline Morse, Ashley Carlton, and Kaitlin Johnson warm up their voices before going caroling on the "Holiday Express."|
|The tradition continues at Princess Anne Elementary School. On Thursday, December 15, Princess Anne Elementary School's chorus spread a little holiday cheer at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center at Dam Neck. The 60-member chorus left PA Elementary at 9:15 a.m. and performed to a packed audience at 10 a.m. This heart-warming musical treat provided the students the opportunity to give back to one of the school's wonderful Partners in Education, a partnership that has lasted over 20 years! The students also performed for residents of the Sullivan House and patrons at the Lucky Oyster that day, too.|
|Parkway Elementary's SCA collected food, toys, and supplies for the Virginia Beach SPCA. The annual "Santa Paws Animal Tree" service project recently finished and the SPCA received a carload of supplies to help keep our furry friends warm and happy.|
|The Hermitage Elementary School Hospitality Committee sponsored a "Furry" Angel Tree with donations benefiting the Virginia Beach SPCA and Hope for Life animal shelter. Paw print ornament tags hung from the tree, and staff members were encouraged to choose one (or more) and purchase the wish list item(s) printed on the tag. Purina cat and dog food, Purina puppy and kitten food, kitty litter, towels, toys, ceramic or stainless steel feeding bowls, and cleaning supplies were some of the items that were collected. The gifts were delivered to the shelters before winter break. Hermitage’s generous staff members helped make it a wonderful holiday season for these shelter animals...and maybe a few folks might just be tempted to adopt a furry friend!|
|John B. Dey Elementary is participating in the Toys for Tots campaign organized by the school's student council and guidance counselor, Felicia Booth. Students brought in new unwrapped toys to donate to the Marine Corp. Toys for Tots Campaign.|
|On Friday, December 16, four of Santa’s elves from Rosemont Forest Elementary School had the privilege of delivering presents to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) senior living facility. This is the second year that students, faculty, and staff have “adopted a grandparent” who is a resident of OLPH. Katherine Moody of OLPH gives Rosemont Forest (RoFo) staff a list of Christmas wishes and then the magic at RoFo happens. It took three cars to carry all the wrapped and labeled packages to the facility. In addition, early in December three classes wrote letters to Santa (at OLPH) and received their responses – thanks to some of the OLPH residents – this week. Pictured left to right are Rosemont Forest office associate Daisy Gajeton, security assistant Denise Dallatore, two OLPH representatives, general assistant Donna Vitovich, OLPH activities director Katherine Moody, and another OLPH representative.|
|The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) for Salem Middle School sponsored the “Give Jeans a Chance” campaign beginning December 1 and running through December 15. Faculty, staff, and students were invited to donate old pairs of jeans so that they may be given to the homeless of Hampton Roads, in hopes that they might have a warmer holiday season. The NJHS collected over 60 pairs of jeans during this campaign. Pictured are NJHS members along with the club sponsor and eighth-grade English teacher Jim Leland (pictured back row, second from left).|
|Larkspur Middle School students and staff raised over $300 for the Norfolk SPCA. Art students designed and created original "thank you" cards and sold them during student lunch periods. Students also collected items such as pet beds, towels, canned food, and pet toys for the "no kill" shelter. A shelter representative picked up the donations from Larkspur Middle on Thursday, December 22. A great project involving student support of a very worthy cause!|
|Hermitage Elementary School SCA sponsors Dee Dee Abernathy (fourth-grade teacher) and Isabel Perez (third-grade teacher) worked with their SCA members to sponsor a holiday food drive to help those less fortunate during this holiday season. During the schoolwide campaign, students donated non-perishable food items to benefit the local Lions Club. As an incentive, students were rewarded with a spirit day during the last week before winter break. As students dropped off their donations beneath the holiday tree, they cast their spirit day votes by placing the food items into baskets labeled for different spirit days: holiday hat day, red/green day, holiday sweater day, or holiday pajama day. The overwhelming winning spirit day was...pajama day! This special day was held on Wednesday, December 21. In addition, the SCA collected gifts to fill stockings for eight needy children. Hermitage is proud of its Vikings for their generosity in this season of giving!|
|Point O' View Elementary (POV) faculty and staff caroled in the POV neighborhoods on Thursday, December 15 for the nineteenth year in a row. Faculty loaded onto a school bus, traveling to five designated neighborhood bus stops to sing holiday carols to students and family members. Many faculty members brought their own children to sing and, of course, Midnight the Panther, is always on the bus. Pictured from left to right are third-grade teachers Brenda Bacle and Patti Weaver, fourth-grade teacher Laurel Anderson, assistant principal Janet Smallwood, first-grade teacher Jackie Pfeiffer, guidance counselor Lynne Henry, reading specialist Deb Bonner, permanent substitute Michelle Drew, music teacher Liz Griffin, principal Ed Timlin, administrative associate Louie McIver, and Midnight the Panther.|
|The Bayside Middle School hospitality committee, headed by reading specialist Karen Beebe, organized a drive to bring Christmas to students whose families are homeless or in transitional situations. Raising money through donations and a silent auction for faculty, the committee was able to buy gifts for 21 students identified by the school's guidance department. The SCA, sponsored by seventh-grade science teacher Carla Morris, used the money raised from its fall dance to purchase a gift for each needy student. Family members visited Bayside Middle on Monday, December 19 to collect the wrapped presents plus a bag of groceries donated by Operation Blessings. Parents could also select stocking stuffers from another table. Soldiers from the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, the school's Partner in Education, helped patrons transport gifts to vehicles. Others involved were from the Expeditionary Support Unit Junior Enlisted Association and Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Pictured are school improvement specialist Alison Acosta, bookkeeper Sara Mundy, special education teacher Barbara Hook-Scott, teacher assistant Debbie Keys, reading specialist Karen Beebe, and office associate Brian Hill as they prepare gifts for pick-up.|