Michelle Patragas (3rd grade teacher SC) shops with Madison Werner (3rd grade SC)
It's no question that this year has looked very different for many students throughout Canon-McMillan School District, and that includes the younger kids at the elementary schools like South Central Elementary in Canonsburg, PA. There are many seasonal traditions that either got cancelled this year because of the global pandemic and the move to remote learning and the Santa Shop was one of them. The Santa Shop is where gifts are offered at the school and the students bring money to shop for their families. This is a favorite for many students and some still have the gifts their children buy them to this day! South Central third grade teacher Mrs. Michelle Patragas for example has children that are now in high school and middle school and she still has their gifts from when they participated in the Santa Shop. She says her kids still remember and loved this tradition as well and they felt that there must be something they can do to give this year's kids a sense of normalcy by somehow keeping this tradition.
Mrs. Patragas then got to work to keep the Santa Shop tradition alive! She sent her parents an email and sent the students a Google Slide to complete with their Shopping List. The parents signed up for a time slot using Sign Up Genius and they shopped on December 9 and 10 at the Five Below in McMurray. The South Central PTA holds a fundraiser each year with Five Below in McMurray and Washington and when a flier is presented the school earns 10% of what is spent, so choosing to do it during those days was perfect! The school was still able to earn money as a fundraiser! A few other South Central teachers participated in this as well: Megan LaFever (Second Grade) shopped one day at Five Below McMurray with Mrs. Patragas and Kriste Shaffer (also Second Grade). Lindsay Lloyd (Second Grade) shopped at the Five Below in Washington on the same days.
Mrs. Patragas printed out the students' shopping lists and brought them on the day of the shopping trips and their parents brought them with their envelopes with money, just like a school Santa Shop! Mrs. Patragas' daughter, Madeliene Patragas who is a junior at the high school and her son, Nico Patragas who is in seventh grade at the middle school came along to help the students students all shop as well. Mrs. Patragas' kids also recruited their friends, Avamaria Sepe (a Senior), Sami Uram (a Junior) and Katie Maxwell (a Junior). The elementary students loved having the 'big kids' shop with them!
Mrs. Patragas hopes that even though the experience was different this year, the kids still look back on it fondly,
"It really was a fun night for everyone and it was so fun to hear the little ones give their reason for picking out each gift! I truly hope that in the midst of so many uncertainties and with things being so different this year, that these kiddos look back on this night as one of their memorable moments!"