Spring ISD’s Winter Wonderland event returned to Planet Ford Stadium for a second year in a row, welcoming hundreds of area families and students on Friday for an evening of literacy-themed activities, games and holiday fun. With more than 2,000 people in attendance, it was Spring ISD’s biggest Winter Wonderland yet.
“This was our largest turnout ever,” said Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, “and it warms my heart seeing so many of our students and families from across the district enjoying this wonderful event, spending quality time together and getting into the holiday spirit, all while celebrating literacy and learning.”
The free annual event, first held in 2015, brings together a broad group of district staff members and volunteers working together to create a magical experience for attendees.
“All of our departments, from Career and Technical Education, Finance, Academics, all of our central office departments come together, and they create engagement activities for our students and their families to participate in,” said Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement Tranita Carroll, “all to instill a love of literacy in our students.”
For this year’s event, staff members and Spring ISD departments helped design and run 19 themed activity stations for students and their families, with help from student volunteers from the district’s high schools. New features of this year’s Winter Wonderland included snow cones from Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, as well as a special basketball-themed experience for older students provided by the NCAA Fan Jam truck.
In an annual Winter Wonderland highlight, each child who attended had the opportunity to take home a brand-new, gift-wrapped book of their very own to enjoy over the holidays and into the new year. As in past years, book donations were made possible through the support of the Spring ISD Education Foundation, together with a grant from the Education Foundation of Harris County.
“We love supporting literacy in the district,” said Spring ISD Education Foundation Executive Director Sandra Scott, “and we have all our foundation directors out here just greeting the families and letting them know that we’re here to support the district, the students and the teachers.”
Bammel Elementary School third-grader Tianna M. Ross wished it had been cold enough for the artificial snow featured in previous years, but said she enjoyed the evening out with her family. In addition to her brand-new wrapped book, Ross also left with an armload of gently used books being given away by members of Spring ISD’s Distribution Services team at their tent. Asked about her plans for her bounty of newfound literary treasures, Ross didn’t hesitate.
“I’m going to read them all night!” she said.
Several members of the Spring ISD Board of Trustees were in attendance, including Board President Justine Durant, who said it was good to see the multi-generational turnout, from babies in strollers, to elementary and secondary students, all the way to parents and grandparents, enjoying themselves and making memories together.
“We know literacy is one of our top priorities,” Durant said. “My grandmother always said that reading was the key to knowledge, and it is. Literacy and reading will springboard you into an amazing future. I’m really excited about the number of books that we have given out this evening, and the donations that have come in for those books, as we continue to build the literacy and the development of our kids.”
Parents were glad for the free event, with its family-friendly focus on literacy and plenty of space for students to run and play on the field. Hirsch Elementary parent Vincent Cruz had three children with him at this year’s Winter Wonderland, ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. He said the annual event has made a lasting impression on his older children over the years.
“They do enjoy it, and they do remember,” Cruz said. “There’s always something they end up taking home with them, like a little activity book, an ornament they made, or a piggy bank. They love that stuff.”
Another parent, Charlita Bridges, moved with her family from Florida earlier in 2022, and was enjoying her first Winter Wonderland experience with her children, including her son Jonathan, a first grader at Hirsch, who was intently focused on checking off all the activities on his list before the evening was over.
“This is our first year, and it’s very exciting,” Bridges said. “I like the fact that it’s very interactive, with all of the different activities, and that it’s for the community as a whole, which is great.”