Opening the door to students' school spirit

Decorating contest, coat drive are among activities at Fallston High

December 17, 2006|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,special to the sun

It is not an everyday sight at Fallston High School: a 4-foot mechanized Santa Claus in an orange T-shirt grooving down in the hallway.

On top of that, as the Santa began gyrating and singing a Christmas song, three students danced along with the automated decoration.

The three seniors -- Christopher Hecker, Nicholas Hess and Joseph Dove -- joined forces to create the display as part of a door-decorating contest begun at the school this year.

"We wanted to do something really different," said Dove, 17. "We wanted to create a door that people will stop and notice."

Sponsored by club

The school's Varsity Club, which supports the varsity athletes and athletic programs at Fallston, started the contest, said Nicole Hoover, the club's faculty adviser.

"Although the Varsity Club typically involves activities that are only offered to students who have earned varsity letters, we wanted to try something that involved the whole school," said Hoover, a trigonometry teacher.

Combining a holiday activity and school spirit, the students were assigned to decorate classroom doors. Next week, members of the Varsity Club will judge the creations.

Hoover expected the activity to stoke competitive spirits among students.

"I've received three separate ransom notes for things that have been taken from doors," she said.

But the skullduggery has all been in good fun, Hoover said.

For example, a doll her students made to represent champion ice skater Kimmie Meissner was taken from her classroom door.

"I guess one of the other groups of participants thought that with a 3-D Kimmie, we would win," Hoover said.

The doll hung on the door next to a verse in a poem written by Hoover and her students and based on "Twas the Night Before Christmas."

A verse that depicts Principal Keith Fleming as Santa Claus mentions Meissner's skating:

"Faster than Kimmie's skating, they did fly.

Their orange noses lit up the darkened sky.

So up to the school top, the cougars, they flew.

With the bus full of students and Fleming too."

Elsewhere, one entry incorporates a fireplace, and another features a plush Santa climbing a ladder followed by a reindeer and an elf.

Meanwhile, Hecker, Hess and Dove were wrapping up their door project that they created for the environmental science room. The door is decorated in red paper, with a gold paper ribbon.

A deer head -- taken from the science classroom -- hangs atop the door, making it appear that the creature is bursting through. Students' T-shirts hang on the walls around the door, and a stuffed reindeer dangles from the ceiling. And there's the dancing Santa.

The project required more than a little planning, Dove said.

"We secured the deer head to the door with a nail, so it wouldn't fall down," he said. "Then we used three rolls of tape to wrap the door with the paper."

The students' creativity impressed their teacher, James O'Toole.

"I think the fact that so many of the students are creating doors is great," he said.

Two school groups are sponsoring other holiday programs. The cooperative work experience class started a coat and sweater drive.

Helping the needy

"In the class, we try to teach the students not just the skills needed to get a job, but also how to help people in need," said O'Toole, who coordinates the program.

By the second day of the drive, about 100 coats and sweaters had been collected.

They will be delivered to shelters along the U.S. 40 corridor, said Patrick Kavanagh, a student who started the project.

The Student Activities Leo Club, a school organization affiliated with the local Lions Club, is sponsoring a mitten and hat drive.

The idea is to teach students to give back to their community, said Brenda Haupt, the club's adviser.

"I feel like everything we do positively impacts each group of students," Haupt said. "It helps the community to see teenagers in a positive light."

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