Winter Wonderland

“This is a surprise!” said ninth graders Aiden, Silas and Joey. “It’s fun!” They are gathered around a table in the corner of the cafeteria, each happily decorating a gingerbread house. Next to them is a long table full of extra candies. Across the room, the Noteables sing "That’s Christmas to Me "by the Pentatonix.

Winter Wonderland may be a surprise to freshmen but to other grades, the gingerbread house decorating party is a much-anticipated tradition.

“It’s part of the holiday spirit at John Jay,” said Stephanie.

“Last year we built our own,” said Becca. “This is easier.”

She’s referring to this year’s upgrade: prefab gingerbread cottages. Students made them into one-of-a-kind creations with red and green icing and sugar dots, chocolate drops, peppermint spirals, and more. Some students even added a second floor or a festive front yard.

The party, which spanned five lunch periods, included performances by Vocal Jazz, the Treblemakers, Route 121—JJHS’s houseband—and the Noteables. Over that time, the students decorated approximately 250 gingerbread houses, and ate nearly 750 donuts.

Winter Wonderland is the JJHS PTO’s gift to the students. “We want to bring the holiday spirit into school,” said parent Josephine Berisha. The beautiful 360 of the event is that in using their creativity, students also become gift-givers. The finished gingerbread houses are donated to the Community Center of Northern Westchester, who distributes them to food pantry clients.

“I’m going to make one later today,” said Dr. Samir Biswas, assistant principal of John Jay. “It’s a nice way to relax and be creative and have holiday cheer. This is a wonderful event that the PTO puts together. It shows students that everyone in the community cares about them.”

Thank you to all parent volunteers and Winter Wonderland organizers Josephine Berisha, Amy Buatte, Paul Kuszynski ande Lisa Valdez.

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