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Van Schaick Grade School celebrates “Believe Day” and Holidays Around the World

For the 15th year in a row, Van Schaick Grade School Principal Jacqueline DeChiaro is bringing Christmas magic to her students with “Believe Day,” which has grown to include an entire week of fun.

What originally started in 2008 as a letter writing campaign to Santa Claus has grown over the years to include holidays around the world.

Van Schaick started “Believe Day” in correlation with Macy’s “Believe” campaign which donated $1 to the Make A Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa they received.

“We thought this was a fun and easy way for our students to participate in helping that organization,” said Mrs. DeChiaro. 

After having her students write letters, she and members of the Student Council delivered them to Macy’s in Crossgates Mall. To get into the spirit, the staff donned Believe shirts and they started each morning with Josh Groban’s “Believe” song.

But that wasn’t enough.

Speech therapist Karin Sencer wanted to create a “Believe” room in the building. 

Here, the students still wrote and mailed their letters, but teachers also read them a holiday book or they watched a holiday movie. 

But, still, they felt that something was missing.

“We thought we could do more and wanted the students to give more back to the community so we started doing a community service project in the “Believe” room each year,” said Mrs. DeChiaro.

Over the years, they made blankets that were donated to the children’s wing of Albany Medical Center, collected pillows that were donated to the NICU unit of the same hospital and donated place mats and cards to a local senior center. 

Once covid protocols came about, they didn’t want to give up on their tradition so they moved to the front hall entrance where it has remained for the past four years. 

Mrs. Sencer came up with a holiday focus each year, which became so popular that there is now a building committee that organizes the event.

Past themes have included: “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus” (this was the theme that Macy’s did for their letter-writing campaign), “Rudolph,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “The Grinch,” and “Peanuts.” 

Last year’s theme was ‘Christmas around the World’ and this year’s  is ‘Holidays around the World” featuring: Diwali, Las Posados, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.

“We picked this theme because we recognize that we have a more diverse student population,” said Mrs. DeChiaro. “We wanted the children to realize there are different cultures and different holidays.”

It’s been a week full of fun for students who have enjoyed learning about new cultures and new friends.

Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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