Early Monday morning, 23 kindergarten students from Sacred Heart School took a ride on the Polar Express.
Although the train did not travel very far, remaining parked on the train track outside Kehde’s Barbeque, the journey was a magical one for the students.
Their trip began when the conductor punched their tickets to board.
The students were treated to hot chocolate, doughnuts and candy canes as they snuggled up in their pajamas while SHS Assistant Principal Holly Wilson read the classic storybook, “The Polar Express.”
The book, written by Chris Van Allsburg, is the story of a little boy who desperately wants to hear the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells, but he is told they do not exist.
Late one night while trying to hear them, a steam train arrives outside his door, full of children who are taken to the North Pole.
Upon their arrival the little boy is told that he may chose the first gift. After careful consideration, he asks for a silver bell from Santa’s sleigh.
On the trip home, the little boy loses the bell when it falls through a hole in his robe’s pocket.
He is heartbroken but when he wakes the next morning on Christmas, there is a small gift under the family Christmas tree for the boy, of the bell.
“It’s a story I have always loved,” SHS teacher Kay Keele said. “I started reading the story to my students way before the movie came out and I simply love it; it truly is my favorite story.
“I think the kids really love it because it helps to get them into the spirit of Christmas and what it really is supposed to be about,” Keele added.
This is the second year that students from SHS have made the trip to Kehde’s to hear the story read to them in the train car.
“Sacred Heart is very special to my heart,” John Kehde, owner of Kehde’s Barbecue, said. “I don’t think I can do enough for them and so this is just a small gesture I can do.”
After hearing the story, the students were treated to an extra surprise as Santa took time from his busy schedule to visit the kindergartners and give them each a special gift of a silver bell.
Just as in the book, both Keele and Kehde want to help the students carry on the memories of childhood as they grow up and become adults.
“I’ve taught a lot of different grade levels,” Keele said. “But no matter what age I teach this will always be part of my Christmas tradition for my students.”
“Doing things like today, it’s what you do at Christmas,” Kehde said. “Family and family memories are always important.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484