A winter wonderland welcome for the winter season


Maria Pushart

Mynor Nova-Aguirre, Elkin Alverenga, and Juan Araujo Amaya pose with the aftermath of their glitter hands.

LANSDALE – Imagine getting off the school bus as a petite elementary schooler thinking it’s just going to be another simple day but instead, you are greeted by a parade of your teachers, winter wonderland characters, and a marching band.

As the North Penn marching band came strutting down Squirrel Lane, the road Oak Park Elementary School is located on, the street began to echo with the beat of Seven National Army, and the children’s faces began to light up just like the twinkle lights used as decoration for the holiday season.

While the band continued to play on the front lawn of the school, children who took the bus got a front-row view to see them play as they waited for their turn to get off the bus. Kids that walked or were driven were heading inside but not before high-fiving their teachers and school staff, as well as seeing, what they didn’t know were teachers, in blow-up costumes including Santa, a reindeer, a polar bear, and others.

Maria Pushart

Oak Park has been doing their winter wonderland on December 1st as a way to welcome the holiday season. Jonathan Winkle, the 4 year principal of Oak Park, chose to bring in the marching band this year as a way to emulate a Disney parade you would see and hear as you enter the amusement park.

Maria Pushart

“Weird ideas come to me at weird times, mostly at 4 o’clock in the morning when I’m on the treadmill but the vision for this experience was…when they open up Disney parks there’s a lot of fanfare and parade and celebration and stuff like that, and you know, many of my students will never have a chance to experience that, so what if the opening of a school was like the opening of a Disney park” Winkle shared.

Last year the winter welcome included a helicopter for the kids to see and interact with while they were learning about the aircraft. Winkle is constantly exploring new ideas for school events to engage with the kids and blow their tiny minds with something they could have never experienced.

“Kids only have one shot at elementary school, they have only one shot at school in general, I want it to be the most epic experience so that whenever they grow up they look back and only have fond memories…There’s something about elementary where kids are still naive at the world and you can capture their imagination” Winkle noted.

Maria Pushart

In addition to the excitement outside, the interior of the school was decorated with string light and the teachers embellished their doors with holiday themes. I joined English as a second language Gertha Billetz, who has been teaching at Oak Park for 21 years, and got permission to have her students decorate the door.

The halls of Oak Park are adorned with twinkle lights and paper-cut mittens. (Maria Pushart)

Billetz provided string lights and foam balls resembling snowballs, that the students adorned with glitter, or what they called “sprinkles.” Although the glitter caused a mess, the students had never interacted with it before moving from overseas countries, so they were quite pleased with their mess and sparkly foam balls. It was an exciting day to kick off the holiday season with the holiday fanfare and much more to come with Winkle’s creative endeavors.

The North Penn Marching Band stands ready for their grand greeting. (Maria Pushart)