A Gingerbread House Community

Image from Google

Image from Google

We are fortunate to be a small part of a very special event here at Ridgeview on Tuesday evening, December 13, 2016.  Our Ridgeview Me to We Team will be hosting their second annual Gingerbread House Night.

Our District Innovation Support Teacher (Technology), Cari Wilson (@kayakcari) also teaches Grade 7 at our school, and she sponsors the Grade 7 Me to We Team.  Last year the Team decided to have a gingerbread house fundraising activity to help build a well in Kenya.  It was such a sweet success that we are hosting a similar event for a second year in a row.

Imagine, if you will, the sight of 100 gingerbread house kits, which include icing and candy, ordered and delivered to our school and waiting in the main office.  

For this particular school event, students have to be accompanied by at least one adult, and extra candy and icing can be preordered.

By the time Tuesday evening arrives, Ms. Wilson and the Me to We Team will have picked up the buckets of icing to “glue” the gingerbread house together, packaged many bags of candy and set up the gym with tables and table cloths.

Christy and I, long time gingerbread house builders and decorators ourselves, will be in the kitchen again to help the team by filling cups of pre-ordered icing and to provide support.

When we were ready to open last year, Christmas music was playing and excited students and their families began arriving.  How joyful it was for us to see so many Kindergarten families taking part!  We had never held an event like this before at Ridgeview.  We’ve had Bingo Nights and a spring fair (Mayfair), which brings out plenty of families.  But this particular fundraiser was different.

It was clear from the approximately 200 people in our gym, that the majority of families in attendance were all new Canadian families.  It was particularly moving for us to see so many families interested to to learn about a tradition many of us associate with the spirit of the season.

And it wasn’t just the Ridgeview students and their parents, but the entire family.  Moms, dads, preschoolers and grandparents were at school.  We loved watching grandparents helping their grandchildren with the construction of the houses, while preschoolers and toddlers were assisting or in their mother’s or father’s arms.  We noticed students were extremely focused on their task.  There was very little movement by students visiting other students.  Rather, they stayed very close to their families and seemed to have a deeper understanding this was a family bonding time for them with their family members.  We build strong families when family members across generations play and work together.  

We saw families from the same classroom gathering together around the long tables, talking, sharing candy and icing and getting to know one another better.  Of course, the children know each other from their class, and they were bringing their parents and siblings over to sit down to join a friend’s family.   We have a lot of working parents at Ridgeview so many parents have not necessarily met the parents of all their children’s classmates.  We build a strong classroom community when we strengthen our relationships between families; between classroom parents who are able to support and help each other; and between students when they see each other outside of of the regular school day.

When the night had finished we could see the many gingerbread houses, each one reflecting the personality of its family, but collectively forming a community.  We were united by several common goals:  as a fundraiser to help build a well for those in need; an evening of festive fun for our family; and as a school supporting our student leadership team.  We build a strong school community when we work together and support each other as parents, teachers and students, to provide an exceptional educational experience not only for our own children but all children.

With the money they raise this year, the Me to We Team will be supporting education in a developing country.  It costs $50 a child for a child’s primary education (K-6).  The Team’s goal is to pay for the education of an entire class of students. Please help us work towards our goal so that one day all children can have a basic education regardless of they live, their socioeconomic status or gender.   

It’s not too late for you and your family to come and join us for this fun and seasonal activity!  This year our school is using School Cash Online to complete family orders.  This is different from last year when you could send in a cheque.  You will need to set up your account first so you’ll have to check your Ridgeview Bulletin from November 18.  Your opportunity to order ends on Friday, December 9, so if you’re thinking about coming out, don’t delay.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit “Gingerbread Lane” at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Vancouver.  You’ll see an amazing array of gingerbread houses and gingerbread villages of all shapes and sizes.  It’s a family tradition of both of us to have a “Christmas in the City” day and visiting these spectacular creations is at the top of our list, along with the “Festival of Trees” at the Four Seasons Hotel.

A sampling of a few of our creations…

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