With the weather outside hardly frightful, Spring ISD’s Winter Wonderland offered a delightful holiday event for hundreds of area families and more than 1,200 students on Friday evening.
After being cancelled last year due to COVID-19 safety considerations, the winter-themed literacy event was held outside this year, on the field at the district’s Planet Ford Stadium.
Spring ISD staff members and departments helped run 20 themed activity stations with help from student volunteers from the district’s high schools. And, in what has become an annual highlight of the event, each child who attended went home with a new, gift-wrapped book of their own to read and enjoy, made possible by the support of the Spring ISD Education Foundation.
“We recognize that we are still in a pandemic, but we wanted so much to offer this event for our families this year,” said Tranita Carroll, the Spring ISD’s Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement. “It’s so wonderful seeing the joy on students’ faces, giving them some holiday fun before the winter break while celebrating and promoting literacy and a love of reading.”
Many departments sponsoring the activity booths focused on themes related to their own work: Financial Services provided animal-shaped banks for students to paint, the Guidance and Counseling and Mental Health team offered an “emotional snowman” coloring activity designed to encourage students to express their emotions through art. And the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department returned with their popular career paper dolls activity, inviting students to explore career pathways.
The athletic field was transformed with festive holiday decorations and even a patch of real (although, manmade) snow near the stadium entrance to complete the Winter Wonderland experience. Many district families once again came out for the event, which had become a Spring ISD holiday tradition over the five years leading up to the pandemic.
“It’s amazing! It warms my heart just to see all the kids back for Winter Wonderland this year, face to face, seeing their friends and having fun with the whole family,” said Spring ISD Chief of Innovation and Equity Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, adding that the holiday spirit extended to all those helping run the event as well. “We’ve got Central Office, we’ve got people from the schools, and everyone’s here just coming together celebrating our families, celebrating our students, and – most important – celebrating reading.”
Leroy Wilson was attending Winter Wonderland for the first time along with his daughter Jadyn, a second-grader at Clark Elementary School who was especially enjoying the coloring activities and looking forward to a visit and photo with Santa Claus at the Polar Express booth.
“She came home with the flyer and was like, ‘Daddy, can you take me to this?’” Wilson said. “It’s a good thing that they’re doing for the kids, and she’s having fun.”
Burchett Elementary School fifth-grader Aisha Amiri, who recently moved with her family from the Dallas area, was also attending her first Winter Wonderland.
“We just moved here a couple months ago, so this is our first time,” Amiri said. “There’s a lot of people here! You could meet new people, you could make new friends, and maybe you’ll see them at your school one day. I’m enjoying it.”
Amiri’s father, Abdul Khan, said that events like Winter Wonderland were a great way to bring the community together and give students a chance to connect in different environments.
“I think it’s really good, because kids have fun and they get to see their friends outside the school, and meanwhile they learn something new,” Khan said. “It’s a blessing, you know, you get to see so many beautiful people all around you, everybody is sharing some values, some education, some culture. I think it’s all great.”