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SLIDESHOW: Sunrise students learn the spirit of holidays

Kindergarten student Dennis Polinksy spent part of his day as a Sunrise Elementary School student Dec. 15 explaining to potential customers at the Holiday Helper open house how many tickets it would take to purchase the jewelry he offered.

He was the perfect host.

After putting her efforts into the preparation of the project, third-grade student Kennedy VanHoof had it all figured out and was on the consumer end of the process this day. She was purchasing gifts for her basketball team. She knew exactly what she wanted to get and how many she would need.

There were plenty of items to choose – baked goods, a book of pet letters to Santa produced by Judy Manus’ class, a recipe book made up of favorites from many Sunrise students, Christmas tree ornaments, and tickets for a reading of “The Gingerbread Man” and the puppet performance of “The Mystery of Coral Cove.”

“The Mystery of Coral Cove” was Garrett Rismiller, Barrett Petchnick and Bryson and Kale Engebretsen’s first attempt at script writing.

Which was one of the goals laid out by teachers when the project started weeks ago – to apply classroom learning to benefit others.

The cookbook and book of letters were two more examples of writing skills students put on display. Some students also created instruction manuals explaining how customers could create their own crafts at home. Others wrote invitations or prepared advertising.

There was plenty of math going on as well.

For example, Rismiller was asked to turn a $5 bill into eight tickets and change. At 25 cents a ticket, he figured his customer would receive $3 back.

Students used their creative skills to make crafts to offer in their store. The crafts were made from low-cost or no-cost materials. For many, the project involved following instructions, which meant listening and problem solving.

One of the hardest lessons to learn may have been teamwork.

“It’s not as easy as I thought it would be,” third-grade student Amaya Varga said. With patience and practice, making the items, selling them, serving people and making change with her classmates and those from other classes became easier. “I still think it was pretty fun.”

Which was another project objective – to have fun while practicing teamwork and to celebrate the spirit of giving.

The money students raised through the sale of their crafts and performances will support families from the Sunrise community who might need a hand during the holiday season – thus the program’s title, Holiday Helpers.

This is the third year for the two-day open house, which involved classrooms covering kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition, classes also collected new coats, backpacks, books and toys for children ages 4 to 12.

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