Celebrating Christmas traditions at MPI - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Celebrating Christmas traditions at MPI

Posted on December 13, 2007

by Dr. Edna Hussey on December 13, 2007

Amid the busyness of assessment and end-of-semester conference preparations, Christmas program practices, and holiday events, we gathered the children and faculty together for a few moments of quiet reflection and the singing of Christmas carols at our annual Christmas chapel on Monday morning.  Chaplain Koyama presided at the chapel and shared a story of receiving an early Christmas present — finding his family’s beloved pet dog after a week of stress and worry.  While the Fifth Graders narrated parts of the gospels of Luke and Matthew about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, several children, dressed in costume (Mary, Joseph, angels, sheep, donkey), dramatized the story.  The MPI Choir also sang a beautiful Christmas song.  At the sound of jingle bells, Santa greeted the children with a merry “Ho! Ho” Ho!” and gave each child a fruit bar treat. The Christmas chapel is an honored school tradition, which we intend to keep for many, many years.

On Tuesday, the preschoolers, their parents, grandparents, and teachers visited President and Mrs. Rice’s home for another lovely holiday tradition  — the annual Christmas Tea Party.  President Rice gathered the children into his family room and read the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from Mrs. Rice’s 1957 book copy.  The children made reindeer faces from triangular pieces of toast spread with peanut butter, then added pretzels for antlers, raisins for eyes, and a pink Fruit Loop for Rudolph’s shiny red nose.  And the tea? Well, the children preferred apple juice!
This past Saturday, our preschoolers and their families participated in the Manoa Christmas Parade.  The children were delightfully decked in holiday regalia, sitting in decorated wagons, which were pulled by their parents. I think our preschoolers stole the show!  Many thanks to parents Andrea Stoebenau for organizing the wagon brigade and Chris Stoebenau for donning the MPI owl costume.   

As I’ve been writing today’s letter, parents have been arriving on campus to meet with their child and child’s classroom teacher for the end-of-semester conferences. The student takes the lead in the conference and explains the content of his/her progress portfolio, which includes samples of work from the classroom, including the specialists (art, music, physical education, and character education). The teacher elaborates on specific content and skills learned and areas of improvement needed.  Parents are invited to ask questions and to comment on their child’s learning.  The purpose of the conference is to celebrate each child’s accomplishments and to talk about how the school and home, working together, can support the child’s continued development.  The preschool and elementary program values the learning process, which is evident in all that we do.  For example, the progress portfolios document the genesis and development of a writing piece, from brainstorming lists to drafts to revised and edited copies.  In many of the math pieces, students are asked to show how they solved a problem.  While the product of learning is important (i.e., the answer, the PowerPoint presentation, the poster, the painting, etc.), it is in the learning process that the student and teacher can identify the all-important strategies that lead to understanding or learning.  

Every student, even in preschool, leaves the conference with a progress portfolio.  In the preschool, the teachers have documented particular classroom experiences in which the children have encountered an opportunity for learning, such as at the message center, block-building area, library, or even at the sandbox. The preschool team has written “learning stories” for each student that describe evidence of rich learning and that explain the children’s working “theories” of understanding.

Conferences continue tomorrow, Friday.  Please take time to carefully read your child’s portfolio.  If you have further questions, contact your child’s teacher.  If necessary, you can schedule a conference for a longer period at a time convenient to you and the teacher. Please have your child return the portfolio to the classroom teacher when school resumes after the Christmas break.

Here’s where we are on the Christmas program: The program is next Wednesday, December 19, 6:00pm, in Bakken Auditorium. We do not have use of the gym because of ILH sports.  Since the auditorium seats 600, we have had to limit the number of tickets to each family.  In yesterday’s packet, we placed 2 tickets PER FAMILY, except for the families of children in the preschool and kindergarten, who received 4 tickets PER FAMILY.  The tickets were placed in the younger sibling’s packet. If you don’t intend to use all of your tickets, could you please return them to our office? At this time, we are unable to move the program to another location on campus. Ms. Koshi is trying to arrange a possible viewing area to accommodate more families, but I don’t have any details at this moment. We will send home a flyer next week Monday with more information.

If your child is in the afterschool program and your work schedule allows it, I encourage you to pick up your child earlier so that he/she can get some rest and dinner before the program. We will be very hard pressed to take any additional students in afterschool because we do not have enough staff to supervise additional students at this late date.  All children already in afterschool will have a light dinner (sandwich); however, you can pack a light dinner for your child instead. Please call the school office, 441-3800, if you would like your child (who is already enrolled in the afterschool program) to have the light dinner provided by the school. The children in afterschool should come to school with their Christmas program outfit so they can be dressed and ready for the performance, unless you are bringing the outfit earlier.

Just a reminder about the Christmas Bake Sale sponsored by Ms. Field's and Ms. Revard's multiage 1-2 students on Tuesday, December 18. Students are asked to bring up to $2.00 to spend at the Bake Sale, if you would like your child to participate in the sale. The sale is during snack and lunch recess. All proceeds go to the Heifer Foundation (see last week's letter archived on the elementary website for more information about the Heifer Foundation).  

December 19 is the last day of the fall semester and a regular school day.  All school offices will remain open 7:00am-3:30pm daily during the Christmas break, except December 25 and January 1. The office will be open 7:00am – 11:30am on December 24 and December 31.

We have quite a bundle of lost-and-found items, mostly jackets.  ANY ITEM NOT CLAIMED BY DECEMBER 19 WILL BE DONATED TO CHARITY.

I will be posting a letter next week, then resume my weekly letter in January.

All right. I at least have a 10’ Norfolk Christmas tree, beautifully bare, in my living room. Let’s see if it’ll get decorated sometime before Christmas Eve.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey