Four Colusa High School students are looking to bring Colusa County together this holiday season as part of the Environmental Sciences Academy (ESA) winter project — and they believe that a free showing of “The Polar Express” at the Colusa County Fair Grounds is the best way to drum up some Christmas spirit in the community.
The free movie night, slated for Dec. 18, is being put on by sophomores Gillian Ayala, Jessica Hickel, Abby Huskey, and Sophie Keenan.
“The rest of the groups in our class were mainly doing charity-based ideas, and we really felt like they were all missing the target of bringing the community together,” Keenan said last Saturday. “We really wanted to focus on that, while giving back to the community… I think there aren’t really a lot of opportunities to do something together as a community for Christmas, besides Christmas Tyme in Colusa.”
When the girls first held a brainstorming session, it looked like Christmas Tyme in Colusa might not happen this year. One of their ideas was to help put that event on. When it was announced that the Lions Club and Rotary would be hosting the event, they changed gears.
“We heard that the fairgrounds wasn’t going to do movies this year, so then we decided to bring it back,” Huskey said.
The girls decided on showing “The Polar Express” because the theme of the movie speaks to the goal of their community service project: Believing.
“That’s the theme of our project — we believe in bringing the Christmas spirit back to Colusa County,” Huskey said.
In addition to the movie, the girls have planned a period of time for kids to craft art projects, which will be donated to seniors in the community. The girls said Santa will be making an appearance, too.
“The first two hours will be purely just for kids doing the crafts and taking pictures with Santa, and the last two hours will be for the movie,” Keenan said.
In keeping with the movie, they are encouraging kids to come in their pajamas.
The girls have been busy contacting public figures in the community and making the preparations necessary to hold the event. The girls said that they will soon be sending out letters to ask for donations from community members to fund the project.
“They’ve had to meet with adults that they didn’t know, but are figureheads in the community,” Camie Kaelin, the girls’ mentor for the project, said.
“It’s been difficult. We’ve all had to go out of our comfort zones, talking to people that we don’t know and calling people on the phone — it’s really nerve-wracking, but it has been good for us,” Ayala said.
The girls have set up an Operation Believe page on Facebook to keep in touch with the community. Individuals interested in donating to the project can reach out to the girls there. ▪