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#UCPSGivesBack: Parkwood High students continue decades-long tradition of spreading holiday cheer

Key Club For Parkwood High students, giving back in their community isn’t just a one-time activity – it’s a decades-long tradition.

For more than 20 years, the school’s Key Club has hosted an annual holiday party for deserving students in their cluster at Prospect, Western Union and Waxhaw elementary schools. It’s a day full of games, laughter, smiles, gifts and even a surprise visit from Santa – and this year’s holiday party for 27 Parkwood cluster elementary students was no exception.

“Our Key Club is based on service, and it’s really important for us to give back in our community,” said Parkwood High senior and Key Club President Alli Martins. “The students have such a great time here and we’ve always gotten a lot of positive feedback in our community.”

During the Dec. 13 holiday party, there was an activity for students to participate in every corner of the Parkwood High gymnasium. key club

Some elementary students opted to make crafts and ornaments while others played board games and other games. Stockings and gift bags with the students name on them were perched in the bleachers as were dozens of books for students to grab and build their at-home libraries. Additionally, at least one Key Club member was with each student every step of the way to play games and guide them through the stations.

Although the Key Club hosts the holiday party, Alli was quick to credit the entire student body for making the event possible through an outpouring of donations. This year, the Parkwood High student body donated more than $2,000 to the holiday party.

“The students here really find this important because these are the students who filter through to our high school. Some of our current students even remember participating in this when they were younger, so they can really relate to the elementary students who are here now,” she said. “We have such an eclectic group of students from different backgrounds who come here for the party, and it’s a great time for them to get to know other students outside of the peers that they see every day.”

As she helped a student pose for a picture with their homemade ornament in front of the tree –and then provided that student with a Polaroid as a keepsake gift -- Alli said the holiday party’s ultimate goal is to spread cheer and happy holidays. Even more than that, she hopes that the younger students will see the spirit of giving throughout the high school and be inspired to do the same.

“Above all, we want to set an example. We want these students to know that you don’t have to be an adult to give back in the community,” she said. “No matter your age, we want them to know that you can make an impact on anyone’s life.”

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Ashley Ford, UCPS Communications Coordinator