Walk through the halls of St. James Academy during the late weeks of November — into the weeks leading up to Christmas — and the Christmas Spirit is downright contagious.
Ask anyone you see on the 89 acre campus about their favorite part of the holidays and you’re bound to get a warm smile with a list of the heartwarming activities they’re involved in, both on campus and around the school.
The school supports a sweet, school wide activity called “Jingle Bell Junction.” Families donate new or gently used items throughout the year, and they are displayed for the students to come and “shop” for their families. Volunteers from the school community spend the morning wrapping gifts, visiting with Santa, and helping students find that “just right” gift for Mom or Dad.
“I think Jingle Bell Junction touches most people’s lives. There are always stories of the sparkling necklace (that the first grader really believes are real diamonds) that they give their mom on Christmas morning. It’s a very special time,” shared Kristen Foard, past Patron’s President and current Foreign Language teacher at SJA.
In mid-November, the school hosts a Christmas Shoppe, where the halls are transformed into a festive marketplace of unique gifts and vendors. Christmas music plays as you shop and meet with friends, students sing carols throughout the day and a gourmet café is set up with student servers (who serve the BEST cream of crab soup this side of the Eastern Shore!).
Eileen Gathman, Fourth Grade Assistant and Middle School Religion and Chapel Leader at St. James, works with 7th grade students to coordinate a Christmas card charity program. Students create cards with original artwork and poetry that are sold in sets to the school community throughout the Christmas season. All proceeds going to Paul’s Place, an organization that provides programs, services, and support for individuals and families in Baltimore City.
The day before St. James lets out for Christmas break, music teachers Randi Martin, Donald Wolcott and Cindy Miller work closely with the rector of the school to present a much-anticipated Christmas pageant. School families and friends gather to watch their little ones share the Christmas spirit on stage. “It is the perfect culmination to a very busy and exciting season at SJA,” described Kristen.
During the season, EVERYONE gets involved. Parents, grandparents, faculty, families and community members alike, everyone plays a unique role. From volunteering in the classrooms for parties, to serving food at Christmas Shoppe, to wrapping presents at Jingle Bell Junction or singing carols for the community, the Christmas spirit is alive and well at SJA. Students, families, faculty and staff are all busy serving the community, giving back and enjoying each others’ company.
If you drop by during the season, don’t say that we didn’t warn you! The joyous feeling is contagious!
This article is sponsored by St. James Academy as part of our Cool School Partners series. Read more about the St. James in our Independent Schools Directory. Photos provided by St. James.