December 23, 2016
The high school library was filled with preschoolers screaming, singing, laughing, and cheering. Teachers and parents stood above them with smiles on their faces and cameras in their hands, some even with decorative reindeer antlers on their heads. On the floor sat spirited Atholton students swaying back and forth to the tune of the holiday music that the choir sung. This is not a scene from a festive movie; this is just the good-natured holiday spirit of the Atholton community.
Atholton’s media center was transformed into a holiday getaway on Thursday during the Headstart Holiday Party. For the past 11 years, Atholton clubs, such as iEducate, SGA, and BSU, have come together to entertain Headstart preschoolers for a couple hours before winter break. Laughter and singing filled the air as the children read books, made jingle bell bracelets, colored, and even made reindeer masks.
“[The children] all got to go around, and I feel like it was a good way to see…how we’re helping each other and sharing skills [on] how to help,” said BSU president Sariah Thompson-James. “It’s also a good way for getting them ready for the holiday season because I feel like, especially as time has gone on…the holiday spirit hasn’t really been there, and this is a way to get them excited for Christmas.”
This year, the participating clubs each ran a station with an activity for the preschoolers. The SGA hosted a coloring book station where students, while Atholton’s Alpha Achievers had an arts and crafts station where the preschoolers made colorful reindeer masks of various designs. Members of the Spanish National Honors Society sat down with the preschoolers to read them storybooks at the storytime station, where the children were even allowed to take the books home. The Red Cross club took pictures of the preschoolers with a Polaroid camera and put these photographs into a ornament which the children could decorate, and the NHS gave out warm hats and gloves for the children to take home. According to one of the Headstart preschoolers, their favorite part was the Black Student Union’s jingle bell bracelet station and iEducate’s singing puppets.
“My favorite part,” the preschooler nervously said while putting on his puffy winter coat, “was the bells and the puppets.”
The Headstart Holiday Party has become a staple in the Atholton community and has become an important fixture in the Headstart program. It adds a little excitement to a normal school day for these preschoolers.
“I saw how little things can make people happy,” said junior Alex Mohammed, a member of Alpha Achievers. “Usually Headstart is for people who have low income, [and I saw how] doing little things to help them out will do a lot in the long term.”
Not only does the Headstart Holiday Party brighten the days of about 60 preschoolers, but it also, for more than a dozen Atholton students who volunteered for the event, served as the highlight of their day. The clubs work together to pull off a fun, interactive party that will hold the attention of children with, frankly, short attention spans. This calls for a lot of cooperation between the organizer of the event, iEducate, and all the other participating clubs.
“We coordinate with other clubs. We really like having everybody get involved because that just really matters: having the whole school be like, ‘We’re helping the community,’” said iEducate co-president Paige Beidelman.
The spirit of the Headstart party was one of giving and charity, while also one of having fun and remembering what it is like to be a child around the holiday season. This event is great for both the preschoolers in attendance and the high school volunteers who participate and create an atmosphere of excitement right before the holidays.
“I had a lot of fun. It was fun to work with the kids,” said Thompson-James. ”They’re all really cute, and they’re all really excited so that kind of got me all excited as well. Just a lot of excitement.”