Elf sightings have students shaking their heads – and smiling
Perhaps it was a joke. Maybe some kind of sick humor?
It was enough to make your toes curl; unless your toes were curled already.
Students who arrived at Waccamaw Intermediate School on Monday morning were confronted by the doleful sight of an elf seated in a wheelchair in the doorway of the nurse’s office. A thermometer hung from his mouth like an empty Christmas stocking.
A few kids just kept walking. Some stopped long enough to grab a candy cane from the box that also sat in the doorway. Others pondered the uncanny resemblance of the elf to the school’s principal, Travis Klatka.
Most of them laughed and smiled.
The elf didn’t move. He could have been on a shelf.
“It’s just a way to bring some fun. It’s a stressful time of year; the holidays,” Klatka said.
The elf made a speedy recovery. He was spotted the next morning on the wall outside the cafeteria as sixth-graders were dropped off. He was then found with a rod and reel by the fish tank in the lobby.
Klatka started his foray into elvishness last week. With just 12 school days left before the Christmas break, the elf was perched in a tree in front of the school. The next day, the elf was atop a brick wall by the bus circle.
The sixth-graders were his toughest audience; trying to ignore the elf, but drawn by the absurdity.
“They try not to smile, but you can tell,” Klatka said.
The parents lingered to snap photos, and younger kids on their way to the elementary school smiled and waved from car windows.
“Awesome,” one mom declared.
“If you can’t have fun doing your job, what’s the point?” said Jamie Curry, a sixth-grade teacher who wore a fleece Grinch onsie as she greeted the morning’s arrivals.
After Monday’s trip to the nurse’s office, Klatka was concerned that he had another nine days of slipping into the yellow tights and green jacket that he keeps discreetly out of sight in his office.
“We’re going to run out of ideas,” he said.
That’s only one of the risks a school faces when the principal is wearing a pointy hat and curly-toed shoes, Klatka acknowledged.
While he kept his immovable elf face fixed when the students walked by, he wasn’t shy about breaking character when teachers had questions. He didn’t tell the staff about his plan before he climbed into the tree.
“They got a chuckle,” Klatka said.
They also stop by to snap selfies with the elf. Having a serious purpose doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously.
“I don’t like to be in the spotlight. I like to be behind the scenes,” he added.
But for the next week, the whole school will be looking forward each morning to see what new scene the elf has created.
It’s only 30 minutes out of his day, and it creates engagement during a season of distractions.
“They come expecting something,” Klatka said.