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‘Tis the Season for Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Cheer

Kids from the Columbia Academy for Learning and Enrichment School unwrap the treasures of traditions.

Kids often have the best insights about the splendor of the holiday season. They certainly ask the best questions—and, no, the questions aren’t always about gifts. (Well, not always.)

We turned our reporter’s notebook over to students from the Columbia Academy for Learning and Enrichment, asking them to have fun interviews with important people in their lives. We’re confident the young scribes discovered that the ageless magic of the holidays has no age limits.


An Interview with

Emi Carpenter

CALE Student, Age 7

by Avery Dixon (age 8) & Indiana Fischer (age 7)

We love Emi! She is such a kind friend and she is always willing to help everyone and she always has a big smile on her face. We were excited to interview her to learn more about what she does during the holidays! 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas? 

I love hanging out with my family! We eat lots of yummy food and I love all the presents! 

What are your favorite holiday foods? 

My favorite foods are panettone, turkey, and Christmas cookies.

What are your favorite holiday memories? 

One time, my family built a really long ramp so we could go down on a sled. It was so cool! Until I fell off going down… We all had a good laugh and it’s something I will always remember! 

What do you love most about the holiday season? 

Spending time with family, and I always hope we will have snow! 

What is your favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve?

We get to open one present on Christmas Eve — that is so fun! I always try to guess what it’s going to be and sometimes I even get it right!


An Interview with

Ms. Corinne Carpenter

Junior Kindergarten Teacher at CALE

by Adilynn Dixon (age 10) & Connor Padberg (age 8)

Ms. Corrine is so nice! She teaches the youngest students at CALE. She is so kind and helpful and we were really excited to ask her about what she does during the holiday season!

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

I celebrate by making cookies as a family for our neighbors and by listening to Christmas music. I love listening to the music while we make cookies. It’s such a magical time of year! 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

My favorite holiday foods are my mom’s cheesy potatoes and panettones. YUM!! I can’t wait to eat them this year! 

What are your favorite holiday memories?

My favorite holiday memories are making Christmas cookies with my grandma and watching Christmas movies with my kids, Emi and Luca. 

What do you want for Christmas?

I want my family to be safe, happy, and joyful. That’s what I ask for every year. 

What do you love most about the holiday season?

I love all the Christmas music and the lights, and I love the snow!

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

My very favorite Christmas movie is “Elf!” It’s been so fun to share the movie with my kids and laugh with them!

Do you travel for Christmas? 

No, we spend Christmas Day at home in our jammies all day! It’s the BEST!!


An Interview with

Ms. Nancy Truesdell

K-1 Teacher at CALE

by Josie Deakins (age 8), Emi Carpenter (age 7), & Isabelle Longenecker (age 9)

We love the holidays! We love the lights, traditions, and the time spent with family and friends. We interviewed one of our teachers, Ms. Nancy Truesdell. She is a very special teacher who has been teaching for more than 30 years! We are so lucky to have her at CALE and we love her so much. 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

We always have a big, beautiful tree, we hang an advent wreath, and we go to church on Christmas Eve. 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

I love sugar cookies, hot chocolate, and mashed potatoes. 

What are your favorite funny holiday memories?

When I was little, I would always try to wait up all night in hopes of seeing Santa. I was also always afraid Santa wouldn’t be able to get into my house because we didn’t have a chimney! I also loved to go ice skating on our pond. 

What do you love most about the holiday season?

I love seeing the lights everywhere! I also enjoy being with my family and getting together with friends. 

What is your favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve?

We always go to church, we open gifts, and we sit by the fire and watch the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

What is your favorite part about Christmas?

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is remembering that we celebrate the season to celebrate the birth of Christ. My other favorite part is having so much time to spend with the people I love. 

Do you believe in Santa?

YES!!! I absolutely believe in Santa!!


An Interview with

Tiffany Palmero

Parent of a Student at CALE

by Austin Palmero (age 7) & John Stoll (age 8)

We were excited to interview a parent at CALE! We love Ms. Tiffany. She does really fun events for our school. This year she planned a Trivia Night and it was AWESOME!! We are glad we were able to learn more about what she does with her family for the holidays. 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

I go with my family to church and then we all go eat at Kobe’s! YUM! 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

We always do a Christmas Eve ham. It’s so good! I look forward to it every year. 

What are your favorite holiday memories?

Having all of my family together. This makes me very happy. 

What do you want for Christmas?

I want everyone to be happy for Christmas and I hope Santa brings me a Chicago deep dish pizza! 

What do you love most about the holiday season? 

I love to look at the lights and watch fun Christmas movies. I love to drive around town and look at the lights and pretty decorations.

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Every year, I have to make sure I watch “Holiday Inn” and “Silent Night.”


An Interview with

Dr. Susan Deakins

Co-Founder and Teacher at CALE

by Blaine Munzlinger (age 10), Kaleb Diekmann (age 11), & Maddox Brown (age 9)  

Ms. Susan is the best! We actually call her Ms. Suze. She is funny and she is always making us laugh. We were excited to ask her questions about the holidays because we know it’s her most favorite time of the year. We also know she loves to sing Christmas music at the top of her lungs and that she starts listening the first of November and doesn’t stop until the last day of the year! 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

We have a big dinner, we hang our stockings, we have a tree, we go to church on Christmas Eve, and then we do dinner and sing karaoke! My family loves to sing Christmas music! We also open our presents on Christmas Day. 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

I love Christmas cookies!  All kinds of Christmas cookies!  I really enjoy baking them with my daughter.

What are your favorite holiday memories?

One of my most favorite memories is going to my grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve in Fayette every single year. We would have a huge dinner there and then we all went to church together. We have a huge family, so we took up a lot of room! I also love Christmas morning. We always have country ham and eggs which I LOVE! 

What do you want for Christmas?

I just want to spend every minute with my family. I always look forward to this time of year because everything slows down and I just get to spend time with the people I love. I’ll have to wait to see what Santa brings me this year…

What do you love most about the holiday season? 

Spending time with family.  I love when we build a fire outside and I get to sit around with my children, and talk and laugh!

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

My favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation.  I watch this with my entire family every year!


An Interview with

Blake Fontinel

Marketing Director at CALE

by Juliet Horn (age 10), Ava Showers (age 10), & Mia Bezenek (age 10)

Blake is one of our very favorite people. He is the Marketing Director at CALE. He is SUPER TALENTED! He is a musician and we love to listen to his music @blakesmusic. 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

We spend lots of time as a family. We have gifts under the tree, a wonderful family dinner, and we go to church together. 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

Christmas cookies are my favorite! I also like homemade apple pie. My mom’s is the best! 

What are your favorite holiday Christmas memories?

It was in 2002 when I got my very first bike! It was bright red and I will never forget it. 

Do you travel anywhere for the holidays?

We go to Iowa and stay for a few days. We also spend New Year’s Eve in a cabin in Iowa which is always so fun. It even has a new hot tub! We are excited to use that this year. 

Where do you sleep on Christmas night?

In my room. But when I was little, I always tried to stay up to wait for Santa! I also like to take a drive on Christmas Eve and see all the Christmas lights in town. They are so pretty. 

Do you watch any Christmas movies? 

I like to watch “Christmas Vacation” and “Elf” and we watch this each year with our family in Iowa. I also love to watch “Batman Returns!”


An Interview with

Mira Lazar-Rutherford

Junior at Rock Bridge High School

by Meriel Lazar-Rutherford (age 11) & Alaina Stoll (age 11)

Mira is the sister of Meriel Lazar-Rutherford and a student at Rock Bridge High School. We enjoyed getting to talk to her about all the things that make the holidays special for her. 

What traditions do you celebrate on Christmas?

I celebrate each year by making peanut butter balls with my sister and my mom. 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

I like many kinds of cookies, but sugar cookies are my favorite!  I look forward to them every Christmas! 

What do you love most about the holiday season?

I love to see my grandma’s house decorated for Christmas. It’s really beautiful. 

What is the best Christmas gift you ever received?

I have gotten many things over the years that I have really loved, but I will always remember the year I got a hover board! It was the best gift ever!

What do you want for Christmas this year? 

I want jewelry making supplies! I really love to make jewelry and I’m excited to get new supplies this year so that I can make new creations.


An Interview with

Ms. Jean Monnig

Math Teacher at CALE

by Owen Diekmann (age 8), Eli Hawkins (age 7), & Reagan Jones (age 9)

Ms. Jean is our amazing math teacher and we are so thankful to have her with us at CALE! She has been a teacher for more than 30 years. She is the best at math and she makes it very fun for us. We were excited to learn more about what she does for the holidays! 

What traditions do you celebrate at Christmas?

My family likes to decorate, make good food like cookies and candy, and spend time together. 

What are your favorite holiday foods?

My favorite holiday foods are cookies and pecan pie. 

What are your favorite holiday memories?

My favorite memories are from my childhood when I would wait for my parents to wake up on Christmas morning. I would be so excited to see what Santa brought. It was always very magical! 

What do you want for Christmas?

I do not have anything I especially want for Christmas. I would just like to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. 

What do you love most about the holiday season? 

I like winter with the cold and snow, so I am hoping for a white Christmas! 

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

I have many Christmas movies that I like, but I think “Home Alone” is my favorite. 

Do you travel for Christmas? 

Since my husband and I like snow, we sometimes like to go skiing and snowmobiling during the holidays. 

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