HOISINGTON — The steam whistles sounds, the conductor hollers, “All aboard” and students from second grade at Roosevelt Elementary School quickly walk to board the imaginary Polar Express Train which annually passes through Hoisington close to Christmas time.
The kids bellowed “choo choo” and were prepared with their red ticket allowing them one round trip ride to the North Pole and back. “Make sure you keep your ticket,” the students were told. The ticket allowed them entrance to each station.
For a delightful moment in time, the students forgot they were in school as they went on a roller coaster ride in their imagination to the North Pole on the black locomotive.
The idea of second grade teacher, Megan Husted, it has become an annual event. “We’ve done it for four years. It is a tradition.
“As we look back at the end of the year,” Husted said, “they always remember this. We will keep it as a tradition.”
The pre-holiday break from classroom routines is based on the book, “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg. It was made into a film in 2004. In addition, the book received the prestigious 1986 Caldecott Medal.
The book is set in the 1950s, and a boy is struggling with belief in the true Santa Claus and the North Pole. A magical train shows up outside his house, and he boards the train to the North Pole. The sounds of the silver bell shows them the way. Only true believers can hear the silver bell.
Back in Hoisington, at the first stop, the students’ tickets got punched and they then were allowed into the sight-words train car. The students were broken into two teams. Each student picked a card to make into a sentence. They then rolled the dice and moved the token
down the track. Everybody had a turn.
The students then moved to the second stop, which was the dining car, where they drank hot chocolate and ate cookies. The also listened to a Christmas book.
The final stop was to make a silver bell to wear.
Although for many people the bell stops making its silvery, tinkly sound, those who still believe in Santa Claus will always hear it.