Providing a Magical Experience through Team Work
By: Wil Akers and Cannon Joly
Fourteen years ago at Leighton Elementary, Kirsten Burns a Pre-K teacher wanted to have a field trip for her students that would be within walking distance from the school. So, what did Kristen Burns do? She proposed a plan to Jeff McKinney, who teaches Career Tech and Agriculture at Colbert County High School. They decided to take the kids on a trip to the high school to pick pumpkins. The kids would go into the pumpkin patch and choose their pumpkin. After they harvested it, they would paint them and take them home as a gift, but one day it rained and the kids weren’t given the opportunity to pick their pumpkins. McKinney came up with a wonderful idea. He invited the Pre-K students to come back in December and watch The Polar Express, eat cookies, drink cocoa, and meet Santa Clause and his elves.
Over the years, this event has grown into more than just a field trip, but a necessity to the community. At Colbert County High School, it takes many clubs and organizations, such as FFA, FCCLA, CCHS Cheerleaders, School Store Workers and volunteers to ensure this event is a great success, year after year. It brings the out the inner kid within everybody that volunteers while it is going on. Mr. Satchel, the principal at Colbert County High school says “it shows a productive side while also allowing students to have their inner kid within them.” As the event goes on, there is not a single sad face but only faces of joy. This event gives high school students an opportunity to give, love and share the true meaning of Christmas.
The number of people this event has impacted over the years is incredible. Teresa Chaney is a special needs teacher at Colbert County High School and is very happy with what the program has become. Chaney says, “I am so happy my students are included every year. It gives my students a change from the classroom activities and they really feel a part of the event.” Anna Perry, the mother of a Pre-K student and English teacher at Colbert County High School, had always heard a lot about The Polar Express event, but this was her first year witnessing it. She was very impressed and so happy to see her daughter have a great time and interact with the students at Colbert County High School. Perry said “it’s great to see the high school students I teach, give back to the community, especially seeing how it impacted the Pre-K students, including my daughter.” The idea that was brought to the table fourteen years ago continues to grow and impact the community in a positive way. It takes a lot of team work to create this magical experience and we would like to extend a special thanks to everyone involved who continues to make The Polar Express a lasting memory, every year!