Lyons Township High School South Campus was filled with kids both tall and small on Tuesday evening as the school celebrated its annual Holiday Write Night, in which LT students help their junior friends write to Santa (and get a response) and participate in a number of other festive holiday events.
The younger kids, from preschool through second grade or so, enjoyed musical performances, storytelling, foreign-language Christmas traditions, cookie decorating and photos with the Lions mascots as they ventured through the halls around the South Campus’ Discovery Center. For the theme of “Christmas Around the World,” kids got their “passports” stamped at different activity stations.
“To me, the favorite part is seeing the big kids and the little kids interact,” said Write Night organizer Dorothy Cochran. “You get a different view of the high school kids, actually, when they’re working with these little children. They’re so patient and they’re so nice to them, and the little kids, you can see they just love it.”
Write Night has been an event at Lyons Township for nearly two decades, and has grown well beyond its pure Santa-writing origin. Cochran estimated that between 300-400 LT students would host between 300-400 local kids over the three-hour event, a 1-1 ratio she described as ideal.
LT juniors Amy Bazzoni and Indre Virsinskaite, heads of the Write Night activities and decorating committee, said the event is a highlight of the year for the teenagers and younger kids alike.
“The kids, you see them, they get really excited—they open up to you,” Bazzoni said. “I think it’s more fun for us, personally! … They’re really cute, [and] it’s a really fun time, interacting with all these people.”
“Really, it is probably my favorite thing that LT does for the whole year,” added Virsinskaite. “It’s just getting into that whole Christmas spirit is a lot of fun… It’s a great way for a lot of people to come together for a good cause.”
That good cause, besides just entertaining kids, also includes collecting for local food pantries—another important part of the event.
Although the event has grown significantly from its pure Santa-writing roots—and the technology has grown as well, so students now have their letters typed on a computer and get a speedy response (from Santa, of course)—the eponymous “write” part of the night is still the highlight.
Daniel Lee, a second grader at Hodgkins Elementary, asked Santa for a football, a basketball, a board game and a Wii game. “I said, what kind of cookies do you like, and he said, chocolate chip,” Lee related. “[So] I’m gonna give him chocolate chip!”
Meanwhile, St. Louise de Marillac second-grader Kelly Kenny got help typing out her request for Monster High and Littlest Pet Shop merchandise.
“Santa’s a cool guy,” Kenny affirmed.