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Santa comes early for about 200 elementary students

Just making sure everything works. It's hard to tell who is having more fun.

More than 200 elementary students were treated to an early holiday season recently in the sixth annual holiday party given by the Union County Early College (UCEC) Student Government Association (SGA).

Students from Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts and Walter Bickett Education Center were guests of more than 300 Union County Early College students earlier this month. They were first treated to a puppet show put on the UCEC students.

Then each elementary child was given a bag of goodies, including a present hand-picked for that student by the school’s SGA. The event takes about a year of preparation. Each child’s name is placed on the school’s angel tree and then Early College students purchase gifts for the students with their own money.

More than 300 Early College students participate in some form or fashion. “It’s part of our SGA community outreach and it gives our students the opportunity to give back,” said Early College principal Jane Wade. “My students get excited about this. I think it’s a really valuable experience. It gives them the opportunity to reach out and help these children.”

“We all enjoy doing this. It brings the whole school together for these kids,” said Courtney Owens, 17, an Early College senior and SGA president. “It’s a traditional thing and everyone here enjoys seeing the kids opening their presents. We know many of these kids don’t have a lot. One came up to me and told me he had never opened a present before.”

Early College teacher Karen Pharr (the Early College SGA sponsor) and Early College guidance counselor Jeslyn McFadden coordinated the event. SGA students, with the assistance of the school’s DIY (Do It Yourself) Club, decorated more than 200 bags in which presents and goodies were placed.

About 80 students came from WBEC, while about 120 kindergarteners came from Benton Heights. “This is awesome,” said Walter Bickett Education Center director Fo Roldan. “My students have been excited all week. We enjoy it a lot. For some, this will be their only Christmas.”

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 by Sylvia Roldan

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