Meadowlark Elementary School students kicked off Christmas with songs and a visit from Santa Claus Tuesday afternoon.

Meadowlark Elementary School students kicked off Christmas with songs and a visit from Santa Claus Tuesday afternoon.

The whole school gathered in the auditorium for an instrumental concert from the intermediate fourth- and fifth-grade students, who played recorders, glockenspiels, bells, various types of xylophones and chimes. Then they sang Christmas carols such as “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Christmas, Don’t Be Late.”

And then principal Brian Foreman asked the kids who leads Santa’s sleigh.

“Rudolph!” the entire group of excited kids shrieked in unison, before diving into a screaming rendition of “Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer.”

Everything was going smoothly as music teacher Lacy Mikrut directed the children through their songs. But when Santa Claus — played by Superintendent Destry Brown — entered the room during “Here Comes Santa Claus” chaos erupted. First one, then a few, then the whole school realized who had come to visit, and the song all but disintegrated as students leapt from their seats to run and hug Santa.

“It’s a school-family experience for them,” said kindergarten and first-grade teacher Carol Ayers. “It starts the holiday cheer.”

Ayers said it also gives the students something to look forward to.

“The get to see how the older kids can learn instruments and they get excited that they can learn them when they’re older.”

The event is part of the school’s “Reading Celebration” program, which uses outside sources — earlier in the year the school hosted a speaker who taught them about Dutch culture — to help students get excited for reading. As part of the Christmas program, the school gave each student a book as a holiday gift.

“It’s different for each grade,” Foreman said. “We wanted to make sure they’re on a level they can enjoy.”

For Ayers, it’s simply a good way to bond as a school.

“It’s just good school spirit to be all together, singing Christmas songs,” Ayers said.