The Halls Were Decked at Lunsford

1,652 elves worked a bit of holiday magic at Lunsford Middle School.


Each student at Lunsford is assigned to an advisory, known as “The Lion’s Den.”  Each of the 104 Lion’s Den classes decorated a door (and in some cases the ceiling, walls and floor) as part of the school’s door-decorating contest. The students spent six, 20-minute advisory blocks planning and executing their elaborate designs.


Each grade level visited another grade level to vote for their favorite entry.  The official contest judges, School Board Chair Jeff Morse (Dulles District) and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Public Information Officer Wayde Byard, walked the halls of Lunsford on Thursday, December 20th, to select the winners. The prize in this high-stakes contest? The winning class gets Byard as their advisory teacher for one class period.


The advisories and their teachers weren’t above offering bribes to the judges.  One class left personal letters and a stocking filled with candy canes. Family and consumer sciences teacher Cindy Reardon baked cookies. (Gingerbread cookies that were soft and moist.) Another class presented Byard with a wrapped copy of a poster they created for their door.


The competition was stiff as the judges reviewed each entry using an extensive rubric. Lunsford Principal Carrie Simms explained that the activity was originally intended to encourage students to work together as a team.  As the project unfolded, Simms said, the students began to demonstrate the five C’s of LCPS Strategic Goal 1: critical thinkers, communicators, collaborators, creators and contributors.


Themes for the decorations were far-reaching: gingerbread houses, decorated trees, Santa and his elves, snowflakes, snow globes, mantles with stockings and holidays celebrated around the world.  Some were unusually creative, such as “Deck the Halls with Ramen.”  Some were inspired by movies, such as the “Star Wars”-influenced “May the Snow Be with You.”  Some even borrowed from the class curriculum.  There was an Eiffel Tower on the door of the French teacher, and a social studies class illustrated elves on strike in “Santa’s Sweatshop.”


At the conclusion of the competition, Morse and Byard selected Jayne Bowen’s seventh-grade “Polar Express” display as the winner.  Honorable mention went to Alexandra Gibilante’s eighth-grade display. Things didn’t go exactly as planned with their door decorations, so students creatively re-branded their door to “The Grinch Stole Our Decorations.”


Art teacher Michael Kruczkowski earned special recognition for his holiday sweater.  He painted a portrait of Dolly Parton on the sweater and surrounded the portrait with sequins and fringe. (A creation he called “Holly Dolly Christmas.”) Eighth-grade civics an economics teacher Craig Kubiak also was recognized for his festive holiday suit.


The activity ended with Byard making a PA announcement to the student body.  He told the students that there would be no school the next day – the first day of winter break.