December wouldn't be December without the Steubenville Kiwanis Club doing something it's done for a long time - throwing a Christmas party for about 60 first-graders.
This is a tradition of close to 25 years, something that originally was started at Lincoln Elementary School. When it closed, the festivities moved to Garfield Elementary, now known as East Elementary in the Steubenville school system.
On Dec. 17 in place of its regular Tuesday meeting, members of the Kiwanis treated the three classes of first-graders to a pizza lunch; presented them with red East Elementary T-shirts bearing the Kiwanis logo in addition to giving them crayons, erasers and an "I'm a Terrific Kid" pencil; and provided a program given by the Oglebay Good Zoo with its representatives bringing along a few critters for the children to see and learn about.
Oglebay Good Zoo educator Abbee Sempkowski with Zeuss the chinchilla
-- Janice Kiaski
The pupils enjoying this party pampering were from the first-grade classes of Pam DiDomenico, Ashley DeFranco and Kristin Babela.
What a flashback to cross paths with Mrs. Babela, who was Miss Nalepa back in the day when my son Adam was in her class as a first-grader at Buena Vista Elementary School, now just a memory.
The Oglebay presenters were Abbee Sempkowski and Ryan Dague, both zoo educators who brought with them an albino hedgehog named Albus after a fictional character in the Harry Potter series; a chinchilla named Zeuss; a corn snake named Checkers (Abbee assured me Checkers was "sweet," but I have my doubts); and a nameless marine toad.
In addition to the Kiwanis Club members on hand to assist, Ross Ivkovich, Steubenville High School Key Club adviser, donned a Santa outfit and helped serve the pizza, and there was a good turnout of Key Club representatives from Steubenville High School and Catholic Central High School.
From Catholic Central were Jake Arai, Megan Lloyd, Reha Rabbani, Ashlynne Daley, Tony Godich and Michael Barber.
From Big Red were Farrah Marcino, Cam King, Chris Smith, Elayna Andres, Brooke Sutherland, Kai McClurg, Tanner Westlake and Mytia Barker.
It's a nice event for the kids by a nice group of people.