Just one cup of Polar Express hot chocolate got spilled during the Christmas party in the second-grade classroom at Challis Elementary School.
But, quick action by teacher Jennifer Zollinger made sure the hot chocolate “that tastes just like melted candy bars” was cleaned up with no real damage.
The hot chocolate was a hit with the students, who got their cups of “warm” hot chocolate as they finished watching the Christmas classic. Surprisingly, not everyone wanted marshmallows in their hot chocolate. Some were worried it was too hot. Others reminded them it was, after all, hot chocolate.
The spill was soon forgotten as children grabbed up the gifts they’d brought for the classroom exchange and then sat quietly — for second-graders anyway — as they listened closely to a version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas read by Zollinger. The trick to the lengthy version of the poem was to listen for the words “left” and “right.” Before she began reading, Zollinger quizzed the children on which direction was left and which right from their seats. Then every time she said either left or right, that meant the students passed the gift on their desk in that direction.
She assured them that in all her years of teaching “no one has ever got their own gift at the end of the poem.” Some students were skeptical at first, but soon realized their teacher was correct. Occasionally someone messed up left and right and one child would briefly end up with two gifts on the desk. But the kid without one reacted fast to make sure the clockwise and counterclockwise rotations didn’t get messed up before the next pass occurred.
When the poem ended, students were allowed to “carefully” open their gifts and reminded to thank the giver. As paper was torn and items pulled from bags, kids began shouting with glee and hugging and thanking their classmates for cool gifts. A favorite at the boys’ table was a whoopee cushion which Rylan Hill received. He had fun dropping into his chair with the cushion on it as his classmates giggled at the noise.
A Pixie Belles creature, complete with two furry tails, big eyes and a unicorn horn that changes colors, caught the attention of most of the girls.
A basketball, a book, lots of dinosaur toys, a Jenga game and space toys were also popping out of packages.
Most of the kids got too busy playing with their new gifts to listen to parent Jenny Runnels as she walked around asking if they wanted apples, peanut butter to dip apples in, juice or other snacks. Most of them filled small plates with the other goodies from the food table and at least took an occasional bite between fun and their clean-up tasks before departing school until Jan. 6, when classes resume.