FAIRBORN — As the Fairborn school district prepares to go online for the rest of the semester, two Fairborn schools were bound and determined to bring some holiday cheer to their last in-person day. Teachers, administrators, and school resource officers at Fairborn Primary and Fairborn Intermediate schools dressed up and decorated for three weeks’ worth of holiday festivities — and accomplished it all in a single day.
Kids at Fairborn Intermediate were greeted Friday morning by Santa Claus and two of his elves. SRO Wes Frederick went incognito as the North Pole’s most famous resident, while Santa’s helpers looked suspiciously like SROs Zach Zink and Tyler McCarty.
The trio handed out candy canes to the kiddos as they arrived at school Friday morning, and offered the treats to the littlest ones still in their cars.
According to Fairborn Intermediate Principal Betsy Wyatt, the idea came from a teacher who messaged the staff on Tuesday, when they found out about the district’s plans to go remote.
“She said, ‘the kids are going to miss everything for the holidays, let’s just do something fun,’ ” Wyatt said.
The schools had already planned a mix-and-match day as a fundraiser for Target Dayton Ministries. Target Dayton uses the money to buy Christmas gifts for the homeless. As part of the fundraiser, sponsored by the honors society, kids would donate $1 to wear mismatched clothes. It was a simple thing to expand the fundraiser to include festive Christmas-themed attire.
“We’re just sending them off on a happy note,” said Fairborn Primary Principal Vicki Hudepohl. “We’re still seeing them next week; we just won’t see them in person.”
The staff at Fairborn Primary decked the building with garlands and other Christmas decorations the night before on Thursday, and played Christmas carols all throughout lunch. Hudepohl ended her day on Friday dressed as the Elf on the Shelf.
“I think some of our kids are young enough that they don’t fully understand,” Hudepohl said. “I had one student ask me ‘Why are the decorations for December up if it’s still November?’ ”
Fairborn schools, like many across the country, have struggled as they weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the rising cases, it seemed like a matter of time,” Hudepohl said. “The district has been keeping close watch and working closely with Greene County Public Health, but with families likely traveling and staff traveling over the holidays, it’s better to just keep everyone safe.”
As the schools transition to an online-only environment, teachers will still be teaching from the school buildings, so they have access to all the resources they need.
“It’s hardest on the grownups,” Wyatt said of the transition. “The kids are so resilient. Classes have been practicing with Google classroom and other tools just in case.”
Hudepohl says she still plans to pop into different classrooms, read books to the students, and do all the things she normally does to interact with the kiddos.
“Our staff have big hearts in both of our buildings,” she said. “Being with our kids is the most important thing. We’ll still have our fun, just in a different way.”
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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