Sole of fun: Marshdale students shed their shoes, don party hats

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By Barbara Ford

The fun on Friday lasted the entire school day at Marshdale Elementary School as students celebrated the holiday season with high-energy fun, holiday treats, gift wishes and a special-delivery message for the kindergartners.
The school held its Winter Carnival in lieu of individual class parties, and Kirsten Hollander, PTA president, said the day was all about controlled chaos.
“It’s a chance to break the routine of the day,” Hollander said. “One of the teachers said it’s the most fun she’s had in 13 years, and it’s the best organized event at the school.”  
Shoes were carelessly tossed in the corner of the gym, abandoned for the promise of indoor fun. Nearly every kid took advantage of the indoor bounce castle and a variety of games. Over the deafening noise level in the gym, some of the kids talked about how much fun they had at the party, as well as their hopes for what Santa will bring them.
Adde Hollander, 7, a second-grader in Denise Capretta’s class, hopes for an American Girl Doll for Christmas.
The bounce castle was the most “awesome fun,” Adde said, adding, “This builds the school and community, and now I have more friends.”
Kindergartner Liam O’Connor, 6, hopes his teacher, Martha Nethery, will use her special connection with Santa and tell St Nick that he’s been a good boy. He wants a Nerf machine gun very badly, and he’s working hard to get it.
“Nerfs are really cool,” Liam said.
Natalie Pinarretta, 6, a kindergartner in Nethery’s class, was breathless as she professed her fondness for the Winter Carnival — and most especially the bounce castle.  
 “I like it because it’s fun to bounce,” Natalie said.
Natalie didn’t have a lot of time to chat. She wanted to get back to wrangling a hula-hoop, but she had a moment to talk about what she wants for Christmas: an Easy Bake Oven.
Hollander said the party was on par with the kind of birthday bash moms want to throw for kids but wonder if they can handle all the noise and energy. She said the best part of the day was seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.  
“It’s been a tough couple of years in the economy, and the main thing is to create a sense of community for the school,” she said. “This party is pure fun for the kids.”

Red-letter holiday
As a way of encouraging her 26 students to learn how to write, Nethery asked them to compose letters to Santa Claus. Not really expecting an answer, the kids were wide-eyed when a big red-and-green bag was brought to the classroom Friday.
Soon the kids’ efforts were rewarded with a personally addressed letter from the Claus himself. Their little fingers quickly tore open the envelopes.
Melissa Barton of Evergreen visited her son, Jake, in his kindergarten class and was quickly asked by Makalea Klotsche for help with her letter. Makalea listened intently as Barton read the three or four paragraphs personalized just for her.
Barton said she was glad to help the kids read their letters.
“The kids all have a good time, and it’s a great way to start the Christmas break,” Barton said.
Barton had a Christmas wish she hoped Santa will deliver. She asked for two things all parents want, especially at this time of year: peace and quiet.
“I’ll see if Santa comes through,” Barton said.

Help from the PTA
According to Hollander, the PTA sponsored the event partly as a reward because it raised $18,000 during its recent fund-raiser. PTA funds have helped the school purchase a math curriculum and pay for new textbooks, replacing some that were 17 years old.