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Students deliver gifts to peers, fulfilling holiday wishes


Aliyah Rivera unwrapped a large present handed to her by her friend, senior Lauren Gonzalez. Inside was a large painting kit with lots of tools for creating masterpieces.

Social worker Nicholle Smith hugs senior Avalon Dexter after receiving bus passes to give to students who have transportation needs

The kit was Aliyah’s wish come true through Winter Wishes, hosted by the Student Council. The Wyoming High School senior, while expressing thanks and excitement, said she hopes to major in art education in college. “It’s going to help me with my portfolio.

“I feel so honored and really happy to be one of the people that makes someone else happy,” said Lauren, Student Council vice president. “People get really joyful when they open a gift.”

Student Council members played elves on the mid-December afternoon, stopping by classrooms to fulfill gift requests submitted by their peers. They usually adopt a district family for Christmas, but this year decided to spread the love among the student body. Winter Wishes is modeled after an idea created by Jostens Renaissance to build climate and culture.

Junior Jabari Pennington opens his gift

“It’s more personal because we get to see the impact it has on them and know we are giving it to our students, said adviser Anna Servo. “Some might not have money to buy Christmas gifts, and some might have friends that just need a pick-me-up.”

Students spent $1,500 in council funds to grant 40 of 70 wishes, which ranged from candy and fuzzy socks to several Class of 2019 senior sweatshirts.

Several students and teachers made wishes to give to others.

Social worker Nicolle Smith’s request was filled for fifteen 10-ride city bus passes to help students with transportation needs.

A cart full of granted wishes

Special education teacher Cathy Kammega received a bowling ball to give to a Special Olympics Michigan athlete. Junior Marshaun Morris received a $15 Target gift card to buy his mother a Christmas present.

Junior Callie Seymour wished for flowers to deliver to her sister, Courtney Seymour, a fourth-grader at West Elementary School. “I knew it would surprise her. She is always looking up to me and I thought it would make her happy.”

Council members were so touched by Callie’s request that they presented Callie with her own flower and a $10 iTunes gift card.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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