Students First – Immokalee Schools held pre-winter break events

While students have just returned from winter break, I wanted to take a moment to share some exciting events that took place in our Immokalee schools just before the break.

Lake Trafford Elementary held its first-ever Reindeer Run on December 20th thanks to the efforts of kindergarten teacher Danielle Panicaro. “I wanted to plan a fun event for students that would encourage healthy exercise,” shares Panicaro.

Christmas music filled the air and holiday blow-up decorations lined the half-mile course as parents and staff cheered on the runners, dressed in reindeer antlers, jingle bells, and matching shirts. In fact, many parents and teachers joined in on the fun and ran alongside the students!

The event was free, and families were able to purchase the reindeer antlers, jingle bells, and shirts. Proceeds will be used to support health and wellness initiatives in the school.

“Overall, our first Reindeer Run went awesome!” adds Panicaro. “Our staff really worked together to make this event a success!” And a big thank you goes to Collier County Parks and Recreation, Lipman Produce, and the Benison Center for their donations which helped to make the day a special one for the students.

Over at Highlands Elementary, students in kindergarten, first, and second grade were treated to a special performance of the Gingerbread Man. Prior to the performance, the students worked on several reading standards, such as retelling the story and creating and identifying props and simple backdrops. The school’s literacy team then put together the play with a little help from some volunteers from Central Michigan University (CMU).

The relationship between CMU and Highlands is such a positive one for the school and community. Volunteers from CMU visit Highlands twice each year when the university is off. This year they helped in classrooms, completed campus beautification projects, ran the holiday shop during lunch, and were actors and actresses for the Gingerbread Man play.

“The Highlands staff loves having the CMU volunteers come to campus,” shares principal Margaux Horne. “Not only do they connect with our students, but they connect with the many different possible professions that these young college students may pursue in the future. We love the partnership and see it as a win-win for all!”

(Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec) Kindergarten student Jonathan Salazar Valentin and his mom, Maria De Jesus Valentin Padron, having fun at Lake Trafford Elementary’s Reindeer Run.
(Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec) Students and staff at the first annual Reindeer Run at Lake Trafford Elementary.
(Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec) Students and staff at the first annual Reindeer Run at Lake Trafford Elementary.
(Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec) The literacy team at Highlands Elementary, joined by volunteers from Central Michigan University, pose for a picture following their performance of the Gingerbread Man.

Jennifer L. Kupiec is the Specialist, Communications & Community Engagement Collier County Public Schools

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