Duquesne Education Center prepares 'Polar Express' pajama party

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 3:22 a.m.

“The Polar Express” is coming to Duquesne Education Center.

On Dec. 20, golden tickets will admit some lucky — and well-behaved — youngsters to a pajama party.

They'll see the animated 2004 holiday movie featuring Tom Hanks voicing six different characters, including the conductor of the North Pole train.

“It's our responsibility to set up rewards for the children who demonstrate good behavior and make good decisions,” said Maureen Callas, school nurse and a member of the School-Wide Positive Behavior Team at the Duquesne public school.

Good decisions include the pursuit of reading, writing and arithmetic.

“We do our letters every morning,” kindergarten student Krystal Coto said. “I practice my letters at home and I have a number book.”

The pajamas are donated through an Angel Tree effort by Girl Scout Troop 57531. Callas is a leader of that troop at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Green Tree.

“We have 72 pairs of pajamas we are going to raffle off,” Callas said.

The party also will feature “a secret surprise from Santa,” as well as hot chocolate.

“I like my chocolate with marshmallows,” said Julian Smith, one of the kindergartners competing for the pajamas and tickets.

And it is a learning process.

“They're going to do in-classroom activities that are related to the movie,” Callas said. Those activities will be geared to each level in a school covering kindergarten through grade 6.

As the pajamas came out on Tuesday in Duquesne Education Center, so did a box of books for other youngsters there. Sarah McCluan, spokeswoman for the district and Homestead-based Allegheny Intermediate Unit, was hauling a box loaded with children's books for three Head Start classrooms serving 60 youngsters.

“Since Halloween, the Barnes and Noble Settlers Ridge location has been encouraging its customers to purchase books for children enrolled in the AIU's Early Childhood Education programs, Head Start, Early Head Start and Pre-K Counts,” McCluan said.

“The goal is to gather enough donations so that each of the 1,972 children enrolled in the AIU's Early Childhood Education programs can receive two books for Christmas,” McCluan said. “So far about 2,000 books have been collected and distributed by the AIU to children and families across the county.”

The books range in price from $4 to $16.

McCluan said the collection will continue until early January. While Barnes and Noble has other outlets, including one in the Waterfront near the AIU offices, the store at 800 Settlers Ridge Center Drive, off the Parkway West Exit 61, is the only one participating with the AIU.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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