‘Look in the classroom and who should appear, but jolly St. Nick and his tiny reindeer…’

Santa makes an early appearance at Marion Intermediate School

By Mike Douglas Marion School District

It’s that time of year when Santa is keeping a very keen eye on youngsters. But, at Marion Intermediate School, some of the kids have been so good; they had their own personal audience with the jolly old elf. To clarify, it was their good behavior and the luck of the draw, but the draw was the students’ choice. As part of the school’s positive reinforcement for good behavior, the students are given a ticket by a teacher or staff member whenever they display exceptional behavior. Students put their tickets in any number of boxes for a weekly drawing for a reward. One of this last week’s rewards was a personal visit with Santa. Santa had 16 well-behaved youngsters to visit with, enjoy some cookies and juice, read story to and to review their Christmas wish lists. “Santa was awesome,” Maryn Deese, whose single ticket was drawn, said. She’d put the rest of her tickets in the three other reward boxes. “I thought we were just getting cookies and juice, but Santa gave us all a stuffed animal.” “It was nice,” said Kayla Shaull. “I put two tickets in the box and it was full. “The stuffed animal was really nice. Santa read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to us. I wanted to stay there (and not go back to class).” Hannah Parrish had a slightly different take on her visit with Santa. “It was really neat!” she said. “I put only two tickets in the box. “It was really neat to meet Santa and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.” “It was good,” Brady Cline said. “I put three tickets in the box, the tickets I got for not talking during music. My favorite part was getting cookies.” “Getting to see Santa was the best part,” Maryn quickly injected. A teacher at the school, Heather Parrish, came up with the idea for the Santa visit and has a personal connection with St. Nicholas. Her maiden name is Nicholas and she has a close genetic connection to the jolly visitor. “I was just looking for something different and special for the kids,” she said. Since Santa was in Magnolia the day before the visit and since his sled and reindeer are being prepared for his annual journey, Parrish said he had to make the four-hour drive to Marion. She added three generations of her family (great-grandfather, grandfather and father) have filled in for Santa, spending more than 60 years spreading a little holiday cheer and wonder to children and it is all at their own expense. Her family’s Santas have never been compensated for their efforts. Besides Hannah, Maryn, Brady and Kayla, the other students having a personal meeting with Santa were Mykehel McCollum, Brayden Tatum, Kelsey Reed, Leah Stewart, Landon Peyton, Anna Parnell, Lacie Martin, Heaven Dandridge, Bethany Rains, Madilyn Jackson, Travis Davis and Oluwawole “Wally” Argbede.

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