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Upshur classroom’s elf has his magic restored

Mishap worries students at Academy Elementary

December 29, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

When a substitute teacher unknowingly caused an elf in a second-grade Buckhannon Academy Elementary School classroom to lose his magic, a chaos broke lose in the class which quickly filled with second graders in tears.

How was the substitute teacher who had never read or heard about "Elf on the Shelf" to know that once the elf was handled he could lose his magic? An assistant principal, school counselor and aid were able to instill hope in the students that all was not lost; the elf could still be saved.

"The class was quite simply a disaster. Nothing could be done, or so they thought," Technology Integration Specialist Melissa Lampinen said, adding that a telephone application and the help of school officials was all that was needed to restore the elf's magic.

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Second-graders at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School keep their fingers crossed for the revival of an elf in their classroom who lost his magic when a substitute teacher accidentally handled him.

In the popular story written by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, the elf appears in homes or classrooms where he watches everything closely, up until Christmas Eve. When everyone goes to sleep, the elf reports his findings to Santa Claus about who's been naughty and who's been nice. Without his magic, the elf would not be able to achieve this, but through the collective efforts the school officials who rushed in quickly to help, the elf's magic was restored.

Students watched closely as Assistant Principal William Phillips gave the elf an operation with the help of a downloaded telephone application. Phillips told the students that he had just called Santa who informed him of the application's existence. He said the application was only known to a few individuals.

Phillips placed four stickers in precise locations on the elf. He attempted to revive the elf with the help of the application, telephone and strategically placed stickers.

Students crossed their fingers in hope as the first attempt was a failure, because a SpongeBob SquarePants answering machine made a connection in error. Eyes fixed on Phillips and the elf in a tense moment of anticipation, the students heard a ding and other noises sound from the hand-held phone during the second attempt.

One student said, "I think I saw him twitch," and all the students' anxiousness mellowed into thankfulness and relief as they came to the realization that the second attempt was a success.

There was still the matter of returning the elf to his resting place in the classroom. As soon as Phillips touched the elf, students cried out, but Phillips assured them there was a one-minute time frame in which he could return the elf to a special location in the classroom.

Once the elf was back in place, a new kind of chaos erupted in the classroom. Students were cheering loudly and hugging one another.

Lampinen said, "I have taken away two things from the experience. First, I'm never too old to grow up, or even think about trying. The looks of the little ones just reaffirms my belief in staying young at heart and in mind.

"Second, seems to me that this school has a fine fellow serving in the capacity of assistant principal and many adults who are willing to jump in and help those in need. This principal is one who is not afraid to act outside the 'tie and coat,' and do what's needed for the children. I salute Mr. Phillips!"



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