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Milton Hershey School Student Home Celebrates Countdown to Christmas

December can be challenging for many Milton Hershey School students. Some go home for Thanksgiving and eagerly await Christmas break. The school hosts several special events, such as Milton’s Christmas Workshop and a Noontime Concert Series, to keep students festive and focused. Many houseparents go the extra mile to help get students into the holiday spirit. At Middle Division student home Carousel, houseparents Dan and Vanessa Medlin enjoy making every day special with their annual Countdown to Christmas.

Milton Hershey School's student home Carousel wear matching pajamas as part of their Countdown to Christmas.

Seven years ago, the Medlins determined the Christmas season is a great opportunity to focus on the MHS Sacred Values of Commitment to Mission, Integrity, Positive Spirit, and Mutual Respect. Each day, the houseparents plan something special to mark the days.

Some of the activities are pure fun, such as a holiday-themed gift with a punny tagline such as a bag of Chex Mix with a note reminding them that Santa Claus is “making a list and Chexing it twice.” This year, Carousel students also received a pair of festive socks with a note reminding them that the Medlins are “toe-tally glad you are at student home Carousel.”

Other activities are service-focused. If the Medlins prepare a snack, the students share with others in their neighborhood. They also create ornaments for other student homes and bake dog treats to give to their furry friends.

“I love seeing the children get excited and helping to keep them engaged between the breaks,” Vanessa Medlin said.

Seventh-grade student Christian Rodriguez is a three-year resident of student home Carousel, which makes him a Countdown to Christmas veteran. He enjoys that each day’s activity is a surprise and appreciates the Medlins hard work.

Fifth-grade student Alexander Cronemeyer is celebrating his first Christmas season in student home Carousel, but the Countdown to Christmas has a strong reputation within MHS.

“I knew this was a special place, so I was so excited when I learned I had been assigned to this student home,” Alexander said.

The Medlins believe the Christmas season is about giving and receiving. They cherish the opportunity to create special memories for their students and treasure the handmade ornament that each student signs. When students leave Middle Division and the Medlins home, their promotion to Senior Division comes with an open invitation to student home Carousel’s annual hot cocoa party.

Read More about Student Home Life at MHS

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