Tuesday’s wintry weather held up the buses that transport kids to Sacandaga Elementary School, but Mittens the Elf got there with no trouble at all.
He was peeking out from behind a poster in Marjorie Marmuscak’s second-grade classroom when students began filtering in. Nobody noticed him at first.
There was worried talk.
“My Elf on the Shelf, which is really close to here, came back, which Mittens didn’t,” said Angelleena Butler as she scanned the room with disappointment.
“Maybe he needs a break,” speculated Eva Washburn.
But not long after, a letter was discovered tucked in with the hand puppets on the window ledge. It was written in Mittens’ signature red script.
“Mittens is still here!” Angelleena cried, peeking at the letter.
The search resumed in earnest.
This is the second year Mittens has visited the second-grade classroom during the month of December.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Marmuscak said. “Christmastime, it’s very hard to keep focus, and this gives them something to look forward to each day.”
The students were told the elf is a scout sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus find out who is naughty and who is nice. The concept came from the popular children’s picture book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition,” written by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.
According to the book, when an elf is given a name, it receives Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to those who named it and perches in a different place to watch the goings-on.
“He likes to hide on cliffs, basically, so people can’t get him,” said second-grade student Erin Smith, as she pointed to hard-to-reach places around the classroom where Mittens had been discovered. “He goes to Santa Claus and he reports how all of us are being good.”
Erin said the class has been pretty well behaved this month.
“We’re still working on the talking and how we control our voices,” she admitted.
The students have kept busy writing letters to the elf and reading the correspondence they get in return. They’ve also made their own paper elves to keep Mittens company.
According to correspondence signed by Mittens, the weekend snowstorm blew the elf off course and he landed in Brazil. Monday he wound up at Mount Rushmore before returning to Sacandaga Elementary.
Marmuscak’s students are charting Mittens’ travels on a map and learning about the places he’s been.
Snow was falling steadily Tuesday morning, but the kids didn’t think it would cause travel difficulties for their elf when he ventured north to consult with Santa.
“He only goes to the North Pole at night. Santa uses the magic alphabetically, so not all the elves go at the same time,” Angelleena explained.