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Holiday Spirit Essay Contest

A fantastic job to all essay contest participants. Please see below for our winners and their well-written essays. Congratulations to all!

Category: K - 6th Grade


1st Place Winner: K - 6th Grade
Isabella Morgan, 5th Grade
First Place Winner, Isabella Morgan.

Isabella accepts her prize and award from NexTier Bank SVP / Retail Manager, Heidi McDowell, at Family Bowlaway Fun Center for our Holiday Spirit Essay Contest Event.

Essay by Isabella Morgan

Drifting snow. Homemade cookies. Frosted windows.

"Claire?" Lulu whispered. Claire opened her tired eyes and looked at her six year old little sister.

"What?" Claire answer with a groggy voice.

"Let's wake up to see Santa," said Lulu, sounding determined.

Claire shrugged her shoulders. At 9 years old, Claire wasn't sure if she believed in Santa 100 percent. But Claire wanted to make Lulu happy.

Lulu and Claire tiptoed downstairs. They barely noticed the cookies they had set out earlier in the evening were missing, and the nearby glass of milk was now empty. Then they saw him. Lulu, who always had believed was not surprised, but Claire froze in her tracks. It was SANTA!

"Well, you caught me," said Santa with a friendly twinkle in his eyes. "You can stand there and stare, or you can hop in the sleigh. I could use some help tonight."

Without speaking or giving the idea a second thought, Lulu and Claire eagerly followed Santa to the sleigh. It was just like they imagined--bright as crimson, and it sparkled with a thin blanket of snow.

"Where will we go?" asked Lulu with wonder in her voice.

"I'll leave that up to you," Santa said to Claire. "You're the one who could use a little wonder, it seems."

Claire was stunned. She pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming. "Jamaica?" she suggested.

"Sounds good to me," said Santa. "I haven't been there yet tonight."

Soon they were over the Caribbean Sea and Jamaica was in sight. They landed on a white sand beach, and Claire and Lulu played on the beach while Santa made his stops at each house. They picked pretty shells and sand dollars, each one was more beautiful than the last. Before they knew it, Santa had returned.

"Ready to go? Where to next?" he questioned. They weren't ready to leave Jamaica, but they were excited to continue their adventure.

"Can we go to see the Eiffel Tower?" they asked.

"Sure, it is beautiful at night with the moon sparkling over it," he said.

Before they knew it, they had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed on a city street. While Santa worked, Lulu and Claire stared at the lights of the Eiffel Tower. Then they ran to the stairs and went up as fast as they could to the lookout. Seeing all of Paris was amazing and the sisters never wanted to forget its beauty.

Just then, Santa circled the top of the tower. "Get in girls, our work here is done!"

Even though the girls were sad to leave Paris, they really wanted to go to their favorite place in the whole world. When they asked Santa, he smiled and said, "Sure!"

As he said that, the girls realized they were flying over their neighborhood, back to their favorite place--home. Once they had said goodbye to Santa, they snuck into their house and tiptoed up to their room. They were exhaused, but happy to be home.



2nd Place Winner: K - 6th Grade
Bella Graff, 6th Grade
 Second Place Winner, Bella Graff.

Bella accepts her prize and award from NexTier Bank SVP / Retail Manager, Heidi McDowell, at Family Bowlaway Fun Center for our Holiday Spirit Essay Contest Event.

Christmas with Santa
By, Bella Graff

It was 10:15pm on December 24th. I was fast asleep when I heard a loud knock on my window. I couldn’t believe my eyes, Santa Claus was in my yard. I ran outside quickly and asked “Why are you here?” Santa replied, “This is your lucky year, you have been chosen to accompany me on my journey tonight.” Santa asked me to pick 3 locations I would like to see so I chose Dublin, Paris and the North Pole.

Dublin was our first stop and we arrived in only 5 minutes. Santa’s sleigh came to a stop in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It was 12:01am so it was very dark. Santa told me to look around while he delivered gifts to the local children. I spent time looking around the cathedral. After I went into town to look at the shop windows. Santa found me 20 minutes later. He had finished delivering presents and we were off to our next stop, Paris.

It took us 2 minutes to get to Paris from Dublin. Santa’s sleigh can really fly. It was now around 1am when we got there. This time Santa landed his sleigh next to the Eiffel Tower. What a sight! The Eiffel Tower was covered in white twinkling lights and I couldn't help but stare. Santa was already delivering presents so I decided to lay down in the grass and look up at the sky. In 20 minutes Santa was ready to go. I asked “Santa, before we go can I visit the Notre Dame Cathedral?”. He agreed and we went and saw the remains of the Cathedral. Soon it was time to head to our next destination.

Santa had to deliver presents to everyone else before taking me to the North Pole. I saw many cool landmarks that night and even helped deliver some presents. We started our journey to the North Pole, arriving around 3:40am. Santa said, “We need to leave around 4:40am to get you back home before you are missed”. He called an elf over to meet me. I immediately recognized this elf as my Elf on a Shelf Gingerbread - Gingie,as I call him - took me to the toy workshop. There I was greeted by elves and Mrs.Claus. I got cocoa and cookies and was treated to a quick skate at the rink. I only got about 20 mins to skate and then said my goodbyes. I asked Santa if anyone would believe me. He just handed me a camera when I arrived home.

The next morning I woke at 7:00am and got my parents up to open presents. I realized I missed a present that was hidden under the tree. It was a thank you note written by Santa for all my help. I smiled and showed my parents, and I told them about my adventures.They surprisingly believed me. After that we went to have my mom’s homemade waffles.



3rd Place Winner: K - 6th Grade
Zoe Zimmerman, 5th Grade
 Third Place Winner, Aaron Kolbe.

Zoe accepts her prize and award from NexTier Bank SVP / Retail Manager, Heidi McDowell, at Family Bowlaway Fun Center for our Holiday Spirit Essay Contest Event.

Essay by Zoe Zimmerman

‘‘Twas the eve of Christmas
My pup, Holly, and I
climbed into bed and
started to close our eyes.
I heard a soft sound.
A swoosh of hooves,
Holly and I jumped out of bed
and peered up on the roof.
Santa climbed out of his sleigh
and that big man dressed all in red
whispered, “Zoe, climbed aboard.”
“Only if I can bring Holly,” I said.
“Of course,” Mr. Claus replied.
“You two will direct the sleigh
to our final three stops before Christmas Day.”
“Steer the sleigh to the animal shelter, for I have a plan,” I said out loud. “We’ll find homes for the animals. That will make the town proud.”
“Ho, Ho, Ho,” and Santa winked once.
The sleigh soared away.
Holly and I were on an adventure
to spread joy and love on Christmas Day.
At Orphans of the Storm we gathered them up. We checked the cages twice to get every last kitty and pup.
“Where to?” the big man asked.
I replied, “The nursing home. We can drop off furry friends
so the residents no longer feel alone.”
Santa said, “We have time for just one more stop.” I answered, “Head south to the city, it will only take a quick reindeer hop.”
The snow started to fall as we headed down to the ‘Burgh. The stars twinkled in the sky as we readied to drop the last of the herd.
At Children’s Hospital the sleigh glided on the roof.
Of Christmas magic and love the kids soon would have proof.
The pups and kitties crept off the sleigh. I could already hear the kids’ giggles in Christmas Day.
Holly woofed once and Santa said, “It’s time.” We landed at my house, I grabbed Holly and down we climbed.
I tiptoed into my bed, my mind all awhirl. Holly slept beside me, all tight in a curl.
The ultimate gift is to spread joy and love. We’d done this Christmas Eve with some help from magic above.


Category: 7 - 12th Grade


1st Place Winner: 7th - 12th Grade
Connor Jyachosky, 8th Grade
First Place Winner, Connor Jyachosky.

Connor accepted the prize and award for NexTier Bank's Holiday Spirit Essay Contest for first place.

Christmas Hijack
By, Connor J

It was a snowy Christmas Eve. Right as is stepped into the shower I heard a loud thud outside. Thinking someone had dropped something outside,I ignored it. Once I was done showering it was about 12am and my parents and sister were asleep. When I got back to my room my door was open, which was weird because I was sure that I had closed it. It was too late for me to worry about anything so I walked into my room, the next thing I know everything went black.

I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear, smell, and feel. I was really cold. I thought I was in my bed, sleeping, and waiting for Christmas the next morning. I heard someone say “He’s waking up, he’s waking up!” With my eyes still closed I sat up, and all I heard were bells. I opened my eyes to see that I was hundreds, maybe even thousands, of feet in the air! I looked around and saw Santa and his elves crowded around me!

I started to freak out, scream, backup, and even try to jump off his sleigh! Santa’s elves held me down. “My elves knocked you out because they thought you were an intruder.” he said. “They brought you up here, but you didn’t look like you were waking up anytime soon so I just brought you along.” I started to calm down , until he told me we were in Japan! I I was thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and house! Yikes!

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, so I decided I might as well enjoy the ride. Tokyo looked amazing from above! There were so many lights, buildings, and cars. Santa said “I’ll drop you off and you can explore the city, but come back to this spot in two hours.” I agreed and wandered off.

I saw so many cool things in Japan! Their buildings looked completely different from the ones in America. The food there was so good! They have a whole variety of food; sweet, savory, crunchy, chewy, hot and cold! I felt like I was going to explode after everything I ate! I decided to take a walk to the most popular tourist sites. I didn’t want to leave but two hours were almost up. After Santa picked me up he said “I’m sorry.” I asked him “For what?” Then everything went black.

I woke up in my bed the next morning so confused. I was so lost in my thoughts I forgot it was Christmas! I ran downstairs to open my presents. My last present was a little box from Santa. I opened it and it was a picture of an elf smacking me in the head with a bat! On the picture written in black marker said “Sorry.



2nd Place Winner: 7th - 12th Grade
Jennifer Phan, 8th Grade
 Second Place Winner, Jennifer Phan.

Jennifer accepts her prize and award from NexTier Bank SVP / Retail Manager, Heidi McDowell, at Family Bowlaway Fun Center for our Holiday Spirit Essay Contest Event.

Christmas in Vietnam
By, Jennifer P.

The night sky was filled with tons of tiny sparkling stars. Snowflakes glistened as they softly fell from the clouds. It was a beautiful Christmas Eve night. Little children boasting about Santa coming to bring them presents and adults conversing and cheering while drinking hot chocolate. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Everyone is filled with joy and laughter. We all gathered around the dinner table with all our relatives. I needed some fresh air outside so I walked outside on the wooden porch and sat down on the creaky chair. I saw a glimpse of light approaching me in the midst of the night sky. It was an elderly man, with a soft white beard and twinkling pale blue eyes. He was in a painted wooden red and green sleigh. In an instant I recognized that it was Santa! He came towards me and said “Hello young lady, would you be able to help me deliver these gifts to children tonight?” I instantly agreed. We gingerly stepped into the sleigh. He then announced, “Time to deliver those presents!” The reindeer started taking imaginary steps into the sky and we left. The houses below us slowly started to become distant. Santa asked me in a friendly tone “Where shall we go?”.

The first place I thought of was Vietnam. I had always wondered what Vietnam was like since my mom was born there. She would always tell me stories about her childhood there before she moved to America. I was always told about the promontory that she would frequent to watch the seagulls fly above the clear blue ocean. I immediately asked Santa “ Can we please go to Vietnam?” I said with pleading eyes. He responded “Of course! Let’s go to Vietnam!” with jolly “Ho!’Ho!Ho!”

While crossing the ocean, I saw the waves dancing in the ocean, hundreds of ships, and dolphins jumping in and out of the water. You could feel the wind gently and swiftly passing you. I eagerly awaited the sight of Vietnam.

Once we reached our destination, you could only hear the crickets while the civilians slept. We landed on our first roof. Santa and I stepped out of the sleigh. He told me “Don’t be scared, you’ll be fine. Just jump down the chimney” I shook my head and jumped down the red brick chimney. I closed my eyes and a soft pillowy feeling cushioned my fall. I was surrounded by a christmas tree with small red ornaments and stockings. Santa quickly swept the room with presents, placing them in perfect positions. We left and delivered the rest of the presents to every house in the beautiful country.

Finally, Santa took me home and placed me back on my porch. He thanked me and quickly rode off to deliver the rest of the presents. I walked to my bed and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up, and everything had felt like a dream. Was it a dream all along?



3rd Place Winner: 7th - 12th Grade
Lily Morgan, 7thGrade
 Third Place Winner, Angelina Makhoul.

Lily accepts her prize and award from NexTier Bank SVP / Retail Manager, Heidi McDowell, at Family Bowlaway Fun Center for our Holiday Spirit Essay Contest Event.

Essay by Lily Morgan

At first, the sticks cracked. Then leaves crunched. I turned toward the sounds, and I saw a scrap of red cloth stuck on a nearby branch. The strange noises were making me feel very aware of my surroundings.

Where did that fabric come from?

I started running back to the house as fast as I could until I tripped over a vine and toppled over falling right in front of Santa Claus.

“Well what are you doing down there, young lady?” he asked with a jolly grin. I was too stunned to speak.

“Come on get up!” he said. “I will take you any three places you want to go,” he said, reaching out his large gloved hand. I noticed a piece of his sleeve was torn.

“The three places I would like to go are Greece, Rome and Alaska,” I said, barely containing my excitement.

“Well sounds like a plan. Let’s do it!” Santa said with a grin.

As we flew to Greece, I could see the crystal blue water under me, its shimmery surface under the moon. As we glided over the sand the we stopped and started looking at all the shops and statues that decorated the land. We stopped for some for some food--stuffed grape leaves to be exact.

We finished our stuffed grape leaves and headed to Rome. When we landed, we stopped by the Colosseum. I ran my hands across the stone. We headed to the sleigh and hopped in. Since it was getting cooler, Santa handed me a hand knitted blanket by Mrs. Claus.

“It will definitely keep you warm,” said Santa as we left Rome and headed for our final destination.

As we sailed through the dark fogged sky, we came to a stop right beside a bear den in Alaska.

“We should climb that mountain,” I said.

“Well that sounds like a plan to me,” said Santa excitedly.

As we made are way up a mountain the more I could see. I saw a couple elk sleeping under the brush and an owl sweeping over the land. The most amazing the thing of all was the sparkling northern lights that hung over our heads.

Looking up at them was like seeing an oil painting where all the colors combined perfectly. Standing next to me, Santa was equally breathless, his gaze unwavering as he looked up at the magnificent lights. When a cool breeze started to pick up, we headed back to the sleigh and climbed in.

“Well thanks Santa,” I said. “This was the best night ever!” I said.

As we came to a halt in front of my house, I sat still, not wanting the night to end.

“It’s time to get out now,” said Santa reminded me.

I nodded and hurried out of the sleigh. As I got to the porch, I turned to wave but Santa was already gone…but the memories of the three places we went would never leave me.