A time for giving | SteamboatToday.com

A time for giving

Winter Gift Festival a chance for students to make presents, work together

Melinda Mawdsley

Kindergartner Paige Barnes wraps a beaded wire around her horseshoe Friday. Barnes made holiday presents during the annual Winter Gift Festival at Hayden Valley Elementary School.

— Phillip Dorr can’t wait for Christmas.

On Friday, the Hayden kindergartner envisioned the moment when he gives his mother the homemade presents he spent all afternoon making.

“I’ll tell my mom to close her eyes, and I’ll hand her the bag, and then she’ll open her eyes and say, ‘Whoa,'” Phillip said.

Phillip and his Hayden Valley Elementary School peers spent Friday afternoon participating in the school’s popular Winter Gift Festival. Tena Frentress, one of the event’s creators, said the school has held the event for at least the past 10 years.

“High school students come up and ask me, ‘What are you making this year?” Frentress said.

The festival gives students the chance to make holiday gifts for their family and friends. Students make a different project in each room, and all students visit two rooms.

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Kindergartner Faith Day was thinking about giving her almost-finished potpourri candle to someone other than a family member.

“I’m making one for Ms. Frentress,” Faith said.

The holiday gifts ranged from easy-to-make ornaments to more intricate beaded horseshoes. Many of the presents challenged the children to work together to finish their projects on time.

Although fifth-grade teacher Erika Jezo was looking forward to seeing the finished presents, it was the students’ collaboration on the projects she found most valuable. Each room was a mix of students from various grades.

In Jezo’s first session, fifth-graders Josie Booco and Liam Delaney helped kindergartners and first-graders place beads on a wire and wrap the wires around their horseshoes.

It was intimate interaction among children who wouldn’t normally cross paths during a school day, let alone work together on holiday presents.

“You can’t go wrong,” Jezo said, encouraging the students. “They are going to look awesome.”

The hanging beaded horseshoes were selling for $40 in the magazine where Jezo found the idea for her holiday craft project, and the students were making horseshoes that were just as beautiful for a fraction of the price.

Each student had the opportunity to color a gift bag and write a card before the bags were stapled, placed somewhere safe and then sent home.

Building supervisor Rhonda Sweetser credited the elementary school staff and long list of event helpers, including Frentress, Jolene Lewis, Eileen Coffelt and Kathy Deepe, for making the event such a success every year.

Frentress tha-

nked the Hayden Booster Club for giving the school a grant to help purchase supplies for the Winter Gift Festival.

The festival was just one holiday activity planned for elementary school students. This year, the students will perform “The Nutcracker” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hayden High School.

While the students were working on their gifts, music from the musical was broadcast through the intercom system. The students were singing along – or at least trying to.

“Shhh,” Faith said, trying to hear the music. “That’s ‘Sugar Plum Fairy.’ That’s my favorite.”

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com