Christmas in July at Immaculate Conception

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There’s a unique Rite of Summer at Immaculate Conception Regional Catholic School in Cranston that features everything from storybooks to science to the sea.

It’s called Summer Explore and is a summer day camp, which runs five weeks for children ages 5 to 12, that recently completed its sixth season under the leadership of Director Frank Galligan.

While each and every child enjoyed many different experiences – from taking field trips to the Barrington Book Store and visiting the Buttonwood Park Zoo – there was no question that this summer’s highlight was a surprise and special visit from Santa Claus.

That happened during the last week’s theme Christmas in July, which featured assistant coordinators Kerri Crawford and Kelly McPhillips helping children decorate a classroom with all sorts of colorful holiday items that ranged from turning a tent into a Christmas tree and making especially themed signs.

However, what Carol McPhillips, a teacher at IC who has served as coordinator for Summer Explore since its inception, did actually created all kinds of super smiles and excitement on a hot and steamy summer afternoon.

McPhillips, you see, arranged for a special visit from Santa Claus, who came from the North Pole and later received an escort ride to Immaculate Conception School courtesy of the Cranston Fire Department.

Sometime around one o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, McPhillips – with assistance of Crawford and her daughter Kelly – had the children look out the window at the red fire truck and when they did so they yelled with excitement that “Santa Claus is here!”

The jovial Mr. Claus greeted the children – and staffers – then scooted inside to get out of the sun-drenched heat and asked some three-dozen kids what they wanted for Christmas.

“I’ll put it on my list,” Santa replied with each burst of a child’s request. “I’ll see you in six months so you’ve got to be good. Remember, I’m always checking my lists and I’ll see what I can do for everyone here …”

Santa, though, didn’t just leave after talking with the children inside McPhillips’ classroom.

“I’ve got some surprises for you!” Jolly Old Saint Nick exclaimed. “Line up now…I’m leaving now and I’ll see you in six months. Remember to be good so line-up and go to the cafeteria where you find the treats!”

McPhillips then assembled her group and led them to the cafeteria where they enjoyed treats ice cream sandwiches that McPhillips said “were also delivered by Santa’s elves.”

Needless to say, Santa was a huge hit during the camp’s Christmas in July weekly theme, but other themed sessions – Secret Life of Camp Pets, Under the Sea, Summer Storybook Science Camp, and trips to the Biomes Aquarium, Town Hall Lanes and Children’s Museum – were equally entertaining, exciting and most importantly educational.

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