Milford High School prepares annual Santa’s Workshop

Elves, Santa and the Grinch will soon take over the gymnasium and nearby rooms at Milford High School as students and teachers prepare for young visitors Friday, Dec. 21.

Santa’s Workshop comes alive for one day a year just before the winter break, offering one more chance at holiday cheer before the community enjoys a holiday week away from school.

Teacher, event organizer and Milford High School graduate Molly Chorman said the event has been a favorite inside the school for nearly 19 years.

“Patti Masten simply applied for a grant and it was nothing more than English classes reading to little guys,” she said.

That grant, awarded by the Mid-Del Foundation, the charitable arm for Harrington Raceway and Casino, continues to support the district today.

The drama crew from last year’s Santa’s Workshop presented a play to children who visited. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

“Actually, the [$3,000] check from Mid-Del still has the old name of the program, the Milford Book-A-Neers, in honor of her. It went from simple reading to kids in the wrestling room to now everyone is chiming in,” she added.

This year, more than 200 high school students are working behind the scenes to prepare the winter wonderland and make sure Santa’s Workshop runs smoothly for the expected 500 kindergarteners and preschoolers.

“It’s crazy. They’re from every department. And they have to be fed, too, because these kids don’t go into the cafeteria at all during the event. The Cedarfield Ruritan always feeds the kids. We’re just so grateful for the community support,” Mrs. Chorman said.

The grant money from Mid-Del Foundation and other community partners goes to a variety of needs throughout the day like cookies, books and lumber for a wooden toy, all of which are given to each child as they work their way through the 11 stations.

Craft supplies, costumes, substitutes for the teachers working the event, bus transportation for the students to and from their schools and other financial costs add up. Last year, the event cost the school $8,000. Donations supporting the event are always welcomed.

The rewards are priceless for everyone involved, Mrs. Chorman said confidently.

“When you see all themes in this building coming together as a community, that’s where the magic is. What’s cool is that even kids that are not able to be a part of it that day, they’re still behind the scenes bringing in ideas, prepping, developing solutions and practicing what we could do better next year. Not every kid wants an active role. There’s also logistics, invitations, fundraising, lighting, structure, setting up and other things that need to be done before the event even happens,” she said.

“What I love to see with the little guys is that they get that positive role model interaction and one on one with an older learner in the community. It’s my favorite day of the year. You can feel it. When you see a high schooler on their hands and knees, playing with the kids, that’s an amazing feeling.”

A train room is always a favorite for visitors throughout the day. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Students come from each of the elementary schools in Milford, E.I. Morris Early Childhood Center and four preschools in the nearby area to visit Santa’s Workshop.

They will be greeted by social studies students who will guide them through the stations. Drama students will be acting out The Grinch, art students painting smiling faces, agriculture students leading the children in a flower ornament craft, English students reading to the little ones, and many others involved.

Some elves, like seniors Amber Landon and Cassandra Schrieber, remember visiting the Santa’s Workshop as youngsters.

“It’s just a lot of fun. I remember coming and I’m excited to be able to help for younger kids,” Cassandra said.

Community members also visit the wonderland in awe of the student’s accomplishments.

“It’s a small town buy in and that’s one of my favorite things about this small town. It’s a gem. We can get to any elementary school in town in a matter of minutes,” Mrs. Chorman said. “I think when you can encourage that comrade and those roots, and say, ‘This is you’re home, welcome,’ then we’ve done a good job.

“I just want to say thank you to the town that allows us to do this and to our kids that every year get stuffed in costumes and never complain. I’ve had so many kids ask as early as September if they can have a role. And not just me, my colleagues, too. Thank you to the town and thank you to our kids for letting us do that. Town and board officials will come in and that just means a lot because it takes a lot.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment