21st Century Santa

Jessie Blaney's first grade Choconut Valley Elementary class were part of a videoconference Dec. 12 with Santa Claus.

BY STACI WILSON

Santa Claus paid a visit to a Choconut Valley Elementary first grade classroom last week.

But he did arrive by reindeer and he didn’t have to squeeze down the school’s chimney.

Santa communicated with students in Jessie Blaney’s classroom, as well as other elementary classes in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, in a video conference.

Linked into the North Pole feed, the first Choconut first graders gathered round the television as Santa read, “A Visit from St. Nick.”

Before launching into “Twas the night before Christmas,” Santa proved he was not only able to video conference, he was also up to date on all the latest gadgets.

“Many people get Kindles (an e-book reader), but I still like to hold a book in my hands,” Santa Claus said.

Following the story, Santa visited with the classrooms electronically linked to him. Each of the classrooms that involved in the videoconference also participated in a cookie project.

Santa said, “That is my favorite food – cookies.” He mentioned that he also enjoyed broccoli and brussel sprouts. “The reindeer might like some broccoli cookies,” he suggested.

Blaney’s students made cinnamon applesauce cookie ornaments to hand on their Christmas trees.

“They smell awesome,” Ben Zapolski told Santa.

Santa also fielded questions from the students. Zapolski asked, “What’s your favorite kind of cookie?”

The answer: Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip.

“It helps to lower my cholesterol… at least that’s what I tell everybody,” Santa laughed.

But the talk wasn’t just about cookies, and Santa answered several Christmas questions.

Q: What is the reindeer’s favorite game?

Santa: It involves flying, it’s kind of like Frisbie. It’s a good training game, it teaches them to fly fast.

Q: What is your favorite place to visit?

Santa: Paris, France. And he taught the children how to say “Merry Christmas” in French, “Joyeux Noël.”

Q: What different customs do you see when you are out on Christmas?

Santa: Shoes filled with treats instead of stockings; packages left outside the front door. “Lots of different customs and different decorations,” he said.

Q: What does Mrs. Claus do all day?

Santa: She teaches the elves, does lots of baking and “tells me not to eat so many cookies.”

Other facts the students learned during the videoconference:

Santa is 1742 years old; he has to exercise a lot because of all the cookies he eats; there are 5000 elves that work in his shop; and he vacations in Brazil.

On Santa’s end of the videoconference his Chief Operating Elf Jingles helped Santa during the chat with students.

On the Choconut Valley end, Montrose School District’s Tech Coach Patty Smith worked to bring the videoconference to the classroom for the second year, arranged by the University of Pennsylvania Magpi program.

Jingles the Elf also coordinated getting letters from the students to Santa.

When greeting Blaney’s students, he noted Shyla had asked for a joke book for Christmas.

And then he told her a joke: “What did the elves learn in class?” The Elf-abet.