Dec. 22—It looked a lot like Christmas at Tunnel Hill Elementary School on Friday as students arriving for their final day prior to holiday break were greeted by what appeared to be a snowy winter wonderland and even one of Santa's elves.
"It's really the first time we've gone this big, (but) we love to have fun at Tunnel Hill Elementary School and make things special for the kids," said Heidi Long, who organized the festivities and is a teacher for the school's gifted program. "We pulled out all the stops."
Both the school's bus and car-rider entrances had "snow" — the school had previously "borrowed a snow machine from Grace Presbyterian Church, and we loved it so much we bought our own" — and students were able to watch a holiday film and enjoy s'mores, Long said. "We wanted to combine all this fun for the last day of school before winter break."
Students and staff members were also able to wear pajamas to school Friday in keeping with the "putting the year to rest" theme, said second-grade teacher Emily Thornton. Students had "an inkling" of Friday's plans leading up to the festivities, but not a full picture, so "it will be a crazy day, for sure."
Sky Kriner appreciated the snowy entrance, as "I'm a snow fan," said the second-grader. She was able to frolic in snow on a trip to Michigan, and "I want more of it."
"I love it, too, even though it's not real snow," said classmate Noah Cockburn. "I want to eat it."
As she walked to her class, Kriner was eager to see what other holiday surprises were in store for students, she said.
"We should do things like this even more."
Cockburn wanted marshmallows and/or s'mores from the elf who stood sentry by a fire outside one of the school's entrances, he said. He's also looking forward to celebrating Christmas, because "it's Jesus' birthday."
"Everything I do is just for the kids," said Kevin Booth, a teacher who played the elf. "I taught in Ringgold, too, and we dressed up all the time there, (so) it's kind of my thing."
"This is my favorite time of year, and the kids like it," said Booth, a physical education teacher at the school. "I've got three of my own kids who go here."
"Next year, our goal is to go even bigger, with me in that tree behind me with a parachute sticking out," he added. "Safety first, but we'll make it happen."