KW students get visit from Christmas monster, learn about cultural traditions

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Each Monday, students in grades 6-12 and staff at Kensington Woods School in Lakeland have an all-school meeting led by principal Markus Muennix.

This past Monday was no different, but students were in for a little treat. Since the middle school students were learning how cultures around the world celebrate the holidays, Principal Muennix, a German native, shared a little of his heritage with the students and dressed up as Krampus.

Krampus is a companion to Saint Nicholas in ancient German tradition. He is a horned, half-goat figure who punishes misbehaving children, while St. Nick rewards good children. Children receive a warning prior to Christmas Eve to give them a chance to amend their ways. The word “krampus” comes from the German word “krampen,” which means “claw.”

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“You children have been lied to,” said Muennix, speaking as Krampus to the entire student body. “Santa is not the jolly ole’ guy you think he is. I know when you are sleeping, I know when you’re awake, I know when you are studying, too, so hit the books for goodness sake!”

Krampus’ appearance was a lead in to presentations on holiday traditions that middle school students presented later in the day. Middle school students recently kicked off a unit on cultural diffusion through looking at their own holiday traditions. Each student chose a tradition from their family, researched it and presented their findings to the entire middle school. Presentations varied: some picked Christmas tree decorating, stockings, the Pickle in the Tree tradition, potato cookies, sugar cookies, meat pie, KFC dinners from Japan, and birthday cakes. After the presentations, students and teachers celebrated the season together with food and holiday music.

About the addition of Krampus to the middle school collaborative project, English teacher Ken Ferguson said: “We teachers were having a meeting about the middle school culture unit and decided that Mr. Muennix needed to dress up as Krampus. He talks about Krampus every year as a German tradition. I hope it turns into our school tradition. The students loved it!”

“This was a great opportunity to tie the season and the upcoming semester exams into a fun lesson about cultural differences,” Muennix said after the meeting. “What better way is there to encourage students to study and to wish them well?”

The week before winter break, students at Kensington Woods Schools take their final semester exams, and Krampus wanted to inspire a bit of “encouragement” to work and study harder than ever.

The students, on the other hand, disguised themselves with pictures of their principal’s face to confuse the “demon” and ward off the evil. Report cards in January will show whether their strategy worked.

“It was a fun way to start the last week of the semester and relieve some stress before our finals,” said freshman Gabi Holback. “It makes sense; he was Krampus all along!”

For further information about Kensington Woods Schools, contact Jessie Pratt at (517) 545-0828 or via email at info@kwoods.org. Kensington Woods Schools is located at 9501 Pettys Road, Lakeland, Mich. 48143.

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