As always, the 2010 holidays were a time of celebration and giving at Harker, with special events, performances and service projects going into full swing.
During the second week of December, performing arts groups from all three campuses, including Downbeat, the Upper School Orchestra, Dance Fusion and Harmonics, gathered for the annual holiday tour, which was provided fun holiday entertainment to audiences at Saratoga, Blackford and Bucknall.
At the lower school, grades 4 and 5 celebrated with holiday parties, where gifts were exchanged, and each class had a special assembly of its own. Grade 4 students had fun with karaoke, a snowball game and playing “Santa Says.” Grade 5 kids were entertained by a troupe of actors and enjoyed hot chocolate and other treats, as well as a special visit from Santa Claus.
The lower school also celebrated with a pair of December concerts. The grade 1 Holiday Show, directed by Louis Hoffman and choreographed by Gail Palmer, brought the entire first grade class together to sing perennial favorites such as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” as well as lesser-known songs such as “Candy Candy,” “Shine Little Candle” and a medley of Hanukkah songs.
Grades 2 and 3 had a concert of their own, also directed and choreographed by Hoffman and Palmer, respectively. During the show, both grades alternated between sharing the stage as a group and singing as individual classes. Songs performed included “Jingle Bells,” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Over the River and Through the Woods” and the finale, “Jingle Bell Rock.” Several teachers and guest student musicians also appeared at various points throughout the show.
The lower school’s yearly toy drive saw 925 toys delivered to Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose. Donated items included “sports equipment, board games, stuffed animals and all the popular toys of the season,” said Joe Connolly, lower school dean of students. Harker tech support manager Jesse Lara generously gave more than 125 toys from his own personal collection. “I continue to be touched by the incredible generosity of our parents and students,” Connolly said.
Just before the holiday break, Harker kindergartners got to meet Santa Claus (actually Chris Nikoloff, head of school, in full Santa garb) to share their holiday wishes and enjoy breakfast at this year’s Breakfast With Santa event. All the kindergartners had their photos taken to commemorate their meeting with Saint Nikoloff.
Middle school students and advisories conducted several service projects during the season. The Service Club collected and donated more than 250 pounds of canned and dried food items to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The annual used coat drive, also sponsored by the Service Club, donated 175 coats to InnVision, which provides housing and services to homeless and at-risk families.
In addition, 15 advisories brought holiday cheer to more than 120 preschoolers by purchasing and delivering special gifts to the Kidango Child Center in San Jose. Six other advisories worked with faculty and staff from the lower and middle schools to brighten the holidays for more than 100 children, seniors and mentally challenged adults through Family Giving Tree, for which Harker was a host company this year. Gifts donated included toys, games and clothing that were given according to each person’s preferences.
At the upper school, a massive effort was coordinated to generate food donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank, collecting nearly 850 pounds of food items to offer relief to hungry families in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Upper school advisories made donations to Scott Lane Elementary School, sending two carloads of school supplies, toys and other gifts for elementary school-aged children. They also helped families in need by donating to Sunday Friends, providing everyday items such as binder paper, pencils, diapers and toiletries.
Continuing a yearly holiday tradition, upper school students lent their hands to decoration of the popular Christmas in the Park attraction in downtown San Jose and also carried the massive Elmo float through heavy winds during the San Jose Holiday Parade.
The yearly gingerbread house contest, during which each upper school class, as well as faculty and staff, constructs a gingerbread house, was another annual favorite. The juniors’ gingerbread house was judged the best by voters. In another annual holiday tradition, students painted the windows of Manzanita Hall with colorful, detailed scenes, each based on a different animated character. The seniors’ scene based on the movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” was the winning painting.