Children have a word with Santa at National Honor Society event


Photo by Leslie Fireman

NHS members Anthony Cielo, Javi Garcia, Kyle Prebis and Jason Sartore serve pancakes to guests.

By Carlos Espinoza and Kaylee Ahuatzi

Attendees could choose from green (Grinch) or red (Santa) pancakes. (Photo by Michelle Tafoya)

On December 11, children from West Chicago and the surrounding communities were able to meet Santa Claus in the Commons of West Chicago Community High School at the Pancakes with Santa hosted by the National Honor Society (NHS).

The event started at 8:30 a.m. and ran until 11 a.m. Tickets could be purchased online or at the door.

Once in, attendees were able to help themselves to breakfast – cooked by NHS members – which included Grinch/Santa pancakes, sausages, pastries, and an assortment of drinks, including coffee, tea, milk, and water. The room was decorated with red, white, and green streamers; the decorations committee, led by junior Alexia Palacios-Reyes, also worked to transform the Commons with a Christmas tree, photo booth (for pictures with Santa) and snowman table centerpieces. 

After finishing breakfast, attendees were able to play games, such as BINGO and musical chairs, and make crafts to take home once finished. 

“Honestly, the musical chairs was fun to watch,” said sophomore attendee Diana Mackintos.

Many children participated in mini golf and Pin-the-Nose on the Snowman, in addition to other activities. NHS even provided a pinata (handmade by one of the members), and attendees had the opportunity to write letters to Santa and put them in the special mailbox before telling Santa (senior Sean Slattery) directly what they wanted for Christmas.

The school’s choir sang many classic Christmas carols for the guests, followed by a performance by a string quartet from Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

Michelle Tafoya

Adults who attended were able to participate in a raffle, led by committee chair and junior Ayden Russo, who reached out to many businesses in the community for donations. Sponsors included Carton Craft, Pal Joey’s, El Coco Loco, The Bunker Bar & Grill, Hawthorne’s Backyard, Wheaton Barbershop in Winfield, Caliendos, Walmart of Batavia, Dollar Tree of Batavia, and Berger Bros. Pub.

A considerable donation came in from DuPage Cremations as well. Of the donor, Alex Carbonara, Russo said, “He said anything that would help support a good cause and take the stress off shoulders would be his honor. Super nice and generous guy.”

Seniors Paloma Aguado, Sean Slattery and Danny Eaton at Pancakes with Santa on December 11. (Photo by Michelle Tafoya)

Working toward December 11, members split the work needed to host an event for over 200 attendees. Preparation involved countless hours for several NHS members, especially, senior Committee Chair, Paloma Aguado.

“This was the first time NHS had ever organized such an event for the whole community. This event gave students the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills as they all came together to make this event a success. From planning activities, games, and raffles, to decorating the cafeteria and cooking food for over 200 people, they all put in many hours of hard work both before and during the event,” said Aguado.

Leslie Fireman, English teacher and NHS advisor, added, “I am so proud of the volunteers who came together to put together a wonderful holiday experience for the families who attended. Paloma Aguado did a terrific job overseeing this completely student-run event. She worked tirelessly, as did all our committee chairs.”

Other committee chairs included seniors Julie Castillo, Melissa Castillo, Mariana Lopez and Marla Chavez, and junior Effie Giannoudakos.

It [made] me so happy to see everyone, recovering from COVID – that it could actually happen, and that everyone [was] together and smiling,” said Giannoudakos at the event.

Aguado added, “After years of not being able to do events like these, it was very exciting to see all of the community come together to enjoy a morning full of Christmas activities and music. It was definitely joyful for us to see members of our community happy and able to interact with [community members]. It was an event full of smiles, and fun for people of all ages.”

Surveys were distributed to the families who attended as a way for NHS to receive feedback. According to Giannoudakos, many of the attendees said they would return next year, and indicated they were impressed with the number of activities at Pancakes with Santa.

National Honor Society is an organization at WEGO that recognizes leaders and role models within the school. To be invited into NHS, students must have an average 4.5 GPA after the second semester of their sophomore year; for more information, contact [email protected].