Pizza, gifts and a tarantula, too

PARTY MOMENTS — East Elementary School first-graders, from left, front, Cherish Bryant, Brandon McCallister, Tyler Rhynehart and Denise Manley show off their sweatshirts and other gifts presented to them as part of the Steubenville Kiwanis Club’s annual Christmas party held Dec. 12 for the first-grade classes there. With them are, back, from left, Kristin Babela, first-grade teacher; Kiwanian Tom Timmons, event chair; and Aimee Livingston, club president. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — Serving pizza, presenting gifts and sponsoring a special visit from special critters are all part of what the Steubenville Kiwanis Club does to make the Christmas season a memorable time for first-graders at Garfield East Elementary School in Steubenville.

The annual Christmas party held Dec. 12 involved about 55 pupils in the first-grade classes taught by Kristin Babela and Crystal Wicker and included not only the participation of Kiwanis Club members but also Steubenville High School Key Club members under the leadership of Ross Ivkovich and sponsored by the Kiwanis.

In addition to a pizza luncheon, the pupils were treated to special gifts, including an East Elementary sweatshirt, crayons and an “I’m A Terrific Kid” pencil.

After lunch came an introduction to a 2-year-old baby American alligator; a domesticated European ferret; a blue-tongued skink, a lizard; and a rose-haired tarantula. Bo Walker, an educator at Oglebay’s Good Zoo, explained a little bit about them.

The party, chaired by Kiwanian Tom Timmons, has been a Steubenville Kiwanis Club tradition that originally began in 1993 at Lincoln Elementary but has since been held at Garfield East Elementary School.