With nativity plays and other festive events cancelled because of Covid, teachers at one of our local primary schools decided to go the extra mile to give their pupils an unforgettable Christmas this year.
Teachers at Golborne St Thomas’ Church of England Junior & Infants School spent weeks planning a BIG surprise for the children. When the pupils arrived at school last week they were amazed to discover their school had had a magical makeover – as a scene from their favourite Christmas movie!
Staff had spent weeks secretly gathering all the decorations they needed for the transformation – without letting the pupils, or parents, know what they were up to.
So when the children arrived to discover that The Polar Express had arrived, and the whole school was filled with decorations, Christmas trees and lights, it was a surprise they will never forget!
Deputy Head of St. Thomas’, Louise Bannon, said: “It was initially just going to be a PJ day and children watching the Polar Express film, but the more conversations we had about it, the more exciting ideas we added.
“I love Christmas and this year, the children are missing out on all the usual events, like the nativity. It is also difficult for parents to book events outside of school due to restrictions this year, so it felt extremely important to bring the magic to the children.”
To make the transformation truly impressive, the teachers and staff had been asking their friends, family and other contacts for donations of Christmas trees, lights and other decorations – always careful not to let any parents or pupils know.
The finished display includes 19 Christmas trees, 23 sets of lights, numerous painted windows, a snowman, decorated gazebo, fireplace, sleigh and firepit… and even a train track running through the school!
An incredible day was topped off by a visit from Father Christmas, his elves and real reindeer.
Every member of staff has given their time towards the surprise over the past few weeks – from going out collecting donated items at evenings and weekends, to painting gift boxes and putting up decorations. The night before the big reveal, they all volunteered to stay at school for as long as it took to bring Golborne’s very own Polar Express to life!
On the day, the children arrived in their nighwear, expecting the Christmas movie and PJs day. Instead, they were greeted with a Polar Express train and winter wonderland!
Mrs Bannon said: “The reaction from the children was incredible to witness. It was clear that they hadn’t expected it at all. Many children forgot to say goodbye to their parents because they were so excited to go in!”
And Mrs Bannon says the long hours which went into creating the Polar Express experience was worth every second, in order to create a memory the children will never forget. She said: “The children made us so proud with how hard they worked when they were forced to learn at home. They have made us even prouder when they walked back into school after so long into a new class; that can’t have been easy. They continue to work hard on work they have missed. They absolutely deserve the most magical Christmas we could give them.”
And it wasn’t just the children who were in awe… it was the parents, too!
“The reaction from parents has also been amazing, too,” said Mrs Bannon. “Many have said they cried, and have thanked us for arranging this. This has been really appreciated by the staff and it definitely feels like our St Thomas’ family is closer than ever.”
Take a look around the Polar Express experience!
This video shows the extent of the magical experience that greeted the children when they arrived at school:
Thank you to everyone who made this possible for the children
A huge thank you to all the staff at St Thomas’ who clearly went to great lengths to give their children such a magical experience this Christmas.
Mrs Bannon also wanted to thank everyone who donated items to the school, as well as Martyn Leech from Motivated Minds who rearranged his schedule to be part of the day. Martyn’s protectors and lights really added something extra special – and he even made it smell like Christmas!
Did your children love the Polar Express experience?
Let us know what they thought in the comments below.