Students at Pope John XXIII and St. Boniface Catholic Schools in Elgin participated in the collection of Christmas gifts for the needy in Antelope County.
The gifts were delivered to Antelope County Social Services on Thursday for distribution to families. St. Boniface Parish of Elgin and St. Bonaventure Parishes of Raeville also took part in the appeal for gifts.
Lights flashed on the buildings of downtown Elgin as children began to squeal with excitement as they waited for Santa to arrive on his “sleigh,” aka the city ambulance.
Inside was the infamous Santa Claus, waving as he rounded the corner for another year of bringing Christmas cheer to Elgin families.
In Elgin, it’s not just the jolly old elf who is well known, it’s also the man who has worn the suit for nearly a half century — Mike Schmitt.
Schmitt still remembers the first time he donned the red suit in Elgin. Stepping onto the street for the first time as a mere 21-year-old, Schmitt found himself thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” not knowing the memories this suit would have to tell in years to come.
From a Santa suit to the family business of Schmitt Construction, he found himself following in much of his father’s footsteps after tragically losing his dad to a heart attack. Despite his young age, Schmitt accepted each role confidently and has grown both throughout the years.
Having been raised in Elgin, Schmitt knew he had an important role to play in the community serving as the town mayor, participating in multiple committees and doing whatever he can to help out the local children.
“I really enjoy all of it. I love kids and whatever I can do to help, I’ll do it,” he said.
Being the town’s Santa is undoubtedly one of his most treasured roles in the community. Schmitt loves getting to know the local kids while putting smiles on many of their faces, despite the few tears shed each year.
Schmitt explained, “Of course you’ve got your few that are criers. They want nothing to do with Santa. And mom and dad want that picture taken. So, it’s about like hanging onto a tiger.”
Every year, hundreds of parents bring their children to see Schmitt at the Christmas Kickoff in Elgin, just like their parents did when they were younger. Building a relationship with the local families has been one of Schmitt’s favorite part of being Santa.
Smiles from children light up the room as they excitedly run to their parents saying, “Santa told me that when you were younger. . .”
But it doesn’t stop there. Adding a personal touch to the experience, Schmitt enjoys sharing stories about the children’s parents getting many laughs from community members standing by.
“A lot of the people that bring their kids in now, I had them when they were little. So, I always get to tell stories to their kids about them. Of course, sometimes the parents laugh, and then the next time they get a little irritated with me. But, that’s alright. I still do it,” he said.
Schmitt takes his role as Santa seriously, making sure to refresh his memory by looking through recent catalogs and ensuring that every child in the community has a chance to visit Santa.
Chiming in, Schmitt’s wife, Janet explained that he has a big heart for the local kids making sure that each of them gets a chance to visit with Santa.
Visiting those with illnesses and even taking requests for a visit on Christmas Eve, Schmitt makes sure to spread Christmas cheer.
“Whenever I can put a smile on somebody’s face,” Schmitt said. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll be glad to do it.”
Pope John students were a big winner as the 26th annual Upper Elkhorn NRD Poster Contest was held this fall. Fifty-one students from two area schools participated in the competition.
Each year, the NRD invites Kindergarten through 12th grade students throughout the district to participate in the poster contest, giving them an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents regarding our soil, water and other natural resources. This year, students were asked to incorporate the “Healthy Soils are Full of Life” theme into their posters, which were judged in mid-November.
This year's winners from Pope John XXIII and St. Boniface Catholic Schools were: in the 4th-6th Grade Category, Juliana McNally - First Place, Samuel Hemenway - Second Place and Ashlynne Charf - Third Place. In the 7th-9th Grade Category, Marissa Preister - First Place, Kali Dworak - Second Place and Matthew Dilly - Third Place. Finally, in the 10th-12th Grade Category, Kayce Kallhoff - First Place, Madison Schrage - Second Place and Brianna Hupp - Third Place.
All first place posters were forwarded on to the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts State Poster Contest where they competed against posters from all across Nebraska. The UENRD has been notified that Kayce Kallhoff’s poster won the 10th-12th Grade division and will be forwarded on the national contest.
The community of Elgin kicked off their Christmas celebration tonight with a night full of fun.
Dozens of families filed into the Knight of Columbus Hall for a delicious meal, children’s Christmas shopping, vendors, kids’ games sponsored by the Elgin FCCLA Chapter, and a visit from Santa.
Individuals of all ages came to enjoy the night of excitement and holiday cheer.
More details to be added at a later time.
Get to know Eric Heithoff, a 2006 Neligh-Oakdale graduate who has found his way back to his roots teaching in Elgin.
Where did you graduate from high school? What year? I graduated from Neligh-Oakdale in 2006.
What college did you attend? (years & degree) I graduated from Northeast Community College in 2008 with an Associates in Music Education, and then from Wayne State College in 2011 with my Bachelors in K-12 Vocal/Instrumental Music Education.
What places have you taught? Sutton Public Schools- 2012-2013, Elgin Public Schools- 2013 to present.
How many years have you taught? This is my sixth year.
What subject/class do you teach? PK-12 Music, which includes general music, 7-12 band, and 7-12 choir.
What is your favorite part of teaching? I really enjoy interacting with all of the students. Seeing them learn to enjoy and create great music makes the job really worthwhile.
What are most excited about for 2017-18 school year? All the new music! Our band and choir are performing a number of new pieces, and the elementary will debut a new mini-musical at the winter concert.
Do you have any extracurricular activities you are in charge of? Music at Elgin is co-curricular, which means there are a bunch of extracurricular things like honor bands and choral clinics that the students get involved in. I help students to audition for these groups, and we will also be hosting our conference choral clinic this year as well. We also host a middle grades instrumental solo contest each year, and participate in District Music Contest as well. I will also be helping with junior high wrestling.
What are your classroom goals for the year? This year we are really focusing on the fundamentals of music making. Singing solfege in choir and learning scales in band, as well as all of the basics learned in elementary music.
What brought you to teach here? I have a lot of family that live in the area, as well as work in the school district.
Can you tell me a little bit about your family? My wife Emily teaches music at Orchard Public Schools, and I have a son Brian that is in the 6th grade, and a newborn daughter Robin. My parents live in Neligh, and I have two brothers. My brother Alex currently works for Burlington Northern Railroad as an Engineer, and Blake is attending Northeast Community College for a degree in agriculture.
What are your hobbies? My hobbies include hunting, fishing, gardening, and reading; as well as performing with various music groups in the area from time to time.
At a special National Honor Society Induction Ceremony held during school mass on Friday, December 1st, three new members were welcomed into the Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School Chapter in Elgin. New members include Senior Nickol Payne and Juniors Maddie Schrage and Lauren Seier.
The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921.
The spirit of Christmas arrived early at Pope John XXIII Central Catholic this year.
The members of the student group Isidore house hosted its annual Operation Christmas Child packing party Friday, November 17. The gifts that were collected by students will go to children around the globe to show them that Jesus loves them.
For the first time this year, with the inspiration of Pope John freshman Simon Beacom, many gifts were collected from members of Neligh's St. Francis parish Bible Study group and CCD class students. In conjunction with Park Center Church, Pope John, and St. Francis parish, more than 60 boxes were packed.
For the first time, a drop-off location was located at the Calvary Bible Church in Neligh, Nebraska. Also, generous donations were given by The Bargain Box in Elgin and people from St. Francis to offset the cost of shipping.
This was a wonderful way for many area Christians to work together to spread the love of Christ throughout the world during the Christmas season.
If you are looking for a great breakfast this weekend, Pope John has you covered.
The Pope John Senior Class will be hosting a breakfast on Sunday, December 3 from 9 a.m. until noon at St. Boniface Gym in Elgin. The Class of 2018 and their parents will be serving eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausage, fruit, rolls, coffee and juice.
A free will donation will be collected.
Pope John added to a great year with a trip to Lincoln for a day of mathematics.
1,441 students from 99 Nebraska high schools participated in the 28th annual UNL Math Day on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, on the UNL campus. This event is designed to spark high school students' interest in math, to encourage them to pursue a career in mathematics or the mathematical sciences, and to recognize outstanding mathematical ability.
Six Pope John seniors participated in this all-day event. They were Logan Henn, Paige Meis, Sydney Kerkman, Cole Preister, Calli Krebs and Wenting Yu. The day consisted of the PROBE I and PROBE II individual competitions and the fast-paced Math Bowl double-elimination team competition. The Pope John team won first place in the PROBE 1 written contest for Class VI schools. In the Math Bowl competition, they played eight rounds and fell in the final championship match to receive second place. The students were accompanied by their math teacher, Sister Patricia Hoffman.