Kayla Breese/River News
Pelican Elementary students crowd around a member of the Rhinelander High School FBLA/DECA club to get advice on writing letters to Santa Claus.
12/15/2016 7:29:00 AM Dear Santa: FBLA/DECA members help youngsters send letters to the North Pole
Kayla Thomason Feature Writer
It's that magical time of year again when children hurry to send requests to Santa Claus at the North Pole, but writing those all-important letters is sometimes a challenge for the littlest children. They sometimes need a little help with spelling or coloring. That's where the Rhinelander High School's FBLA/DECA Club steps in. FBLA students visit Crescent and Pelican elementary school every holiday season to help the elementary school students write letters to Santa.
According to JoEllen Lieck, kindergarten teacher at Pelican Elementary School, the letter-writing process starts with a lesson on a very important concept.
"We're looking at the difference between the wants and needs, so something I want for Christmas and then something I need for Christmas," she said, adding that she has heard a lot of students say they want Legos, tablets, cooking items, a doll, a kitchen center, books and such.
Lieck said the students want a lot of things for Christmas, but they are learning the importance of asking for something they need. It is a daily topic they work on in class.
She said her students were thrilled when they were told the upperclassmen were coming to visit and help with the letters.
"They are very excited," Lieck said. "I said the FBLA/DECA was Santa's elves so that was kind of exciting for them wondering who's coming in to help them write letters to Santa and I think writing a letter to Santa is extremely important to them to have that magical part of the season."
FBLA/DECA has helped the students with this project for years.
"I think it's important to have them be able to write letters to Santa but I think it's important to involve the community and it's kind of like a mentoring program when the older students come from the high school or middle school or even just community members come into our classroom." Lieck said. "It builds awareness that other people are here to support you and be involved in our education."
The class was polite and very responsive to the FBLA/DECA students, and Lieck said she was pleased with how the upperclassmen interacted with the youngsters.
"I love how they're (FBLA/DECA) asking them (the kindergarteners) open-ended questions and that they're very interested in hearing what they have to say," Lieck said.
Gemma Ring, one of Lieck's students, was excited to have help writing her letter to Santa.
She said she wanted "a big castle and Santa, and Sophia the First doll and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."
She also said she needs a new pair of glasses and would like a purple and black pair.
Christopher Sparks, Gemma's classmate, wanted a tablet, a shark ship and an Xbox for Christmas and he said he needs a purple scarf.
He was appreciative of the FBLA/DECA's involvement.
"I feel good because they're helping me color the pictures and write the words," Christopher said. "It's really hard not to enjoy them," he noted, adding that he hopes they will come again next year.
This is ninth-grader Valerie Dalka's first semester in FBLA/DECA. She said the letter-writing event was a highlight.
"It's really fun, just to be around little kids," she said, adding that a lot of the youngsters were hoping to find an Xbox or a tablet under their tree.
Dalka's favorite part of the morning was assisting the young students in finding the right words to write to Santa.
"Just helping them write their letters and helping them color," she said.
Junior Caitlin Harris was happy to be on the elementary schooler's turf.
"So far I've enjoyed it, it's been a lot of fun," she said. "I really like that we get to come here and work with the kids in their environment instead of bringing them into something completely different. They're really open and excited so that's really welcoming to see."
She said she helped the students write letters asking Santa for puppies, Minecraft, monster trucks, snowmobiles and motorcycles.
Several students also told her they need new shoes. One student mentioned a bathrobe and another requested a submarine.
She was impressed with how polite the students were and how helpful they were with one another.
"It's really nice to see them working together, like one kid didn't know how to spell something and another came over and helped him out with it. One didn't know how to draw a picture so they went over to help the other one, so it's really nice to see them working together at such a young age," Harris said.
"I'm really glad that FBLA/DECA is able to have this opportunity to do this," she added. "It's a good way to get out in the community and help and show that there are plenty of things to do and do good work. I think it's really fun to come see them and to think that we were this age at one point and that we did this kind of stuff. So it's really fun and it's a new view, so I really enjoy it."
The teachers will be sending the letters to Santa, and Santa is expected to write back.
Kayla Breese may be reached at email@example.com.
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