Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A community Christmas welcome at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School December 13, 2016

An arch frames Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota.

An arch frames Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

WHENEVER I VISIT the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School on Faribault’s east side, I feel like I am walking onto an East Coast college campus. This place of aged stone buildings presents a scholarly image that seems more post-secondary than prestigious college prep school. Known for producing hockey legends, SSM has a current enrollment of nearly 500 students in grades 6 – 12. Most board here.

Window sills, nooks, hallways and more are decorated for the Christmas Walk.

Window sills, nooks, hallways and more are decorated for the Christmas Walk.

Some of those students mingled and participated in Shattuck’s Campus Christmas Walk, an annual holiday gift to the community. I try to attend each December, enjoying the figure skating show, music and treats and the opportunity to view the historic buildings in holiday splendor.

The decorated entry of Shumway Hall.

The decorated entry of Shumway Hall.

The historic buildings feature lots of stained glass windows.

The historic buildings feature lots of stained glass windows.

Inside the historic dining hall.

Inside the historic dining hall.

The dark handcrafted woodwork, the sagging stairs, the stained glass windows and more speak to the history of SSM. The school traces its roots to an Episcopal mission school and seminary established in 1858.

Students study in a newer area of the campus.

Students at a computer station in a newer area of the campus.

But today it’s every bit technologically modern within aged walls. There’s a strong vibe of arts and culture and academics. That Shattuck welcomes locals like me onto campus is a good thing in building community relations and exposure of all this school offers. I couldn’t help but think while at Shattuck on Saturday how much my son would have liked this educational setting and the challenges offered therein. He graduated last spring from Tufts University in greater Boston.

Skaters from Shattuck-St. Mary's Figure Kating Center of Excellence presented a Christmas Spectacular on Ice.

Skaters from Shattuck-St. Mary’s Figure Kating Center of Excellence presented a Christmas Spectacular on Ice.

As I watched the figure skating show, I swayed to “Feliz Navidad” and other holiday tunes while talented skaters glided and twirled across the ice in their sparkly sequined costumes. I remembered then how much I once loved to skate on a bumpy pond in the shadow of a small town grain elevator.

Signs directed visitors.

Signs directed visitors.

In the Shumway Hall entry hall, carolers sing for Christmas Walk guests.

In the Shumway Hall entry hall, carolers sing for Christmas Walk guests.

A lone musician performs.

A lone musician performs.

A short walk from the ice arena, I listened to string instrument solos, delighting in that music and the holiday tunes of carolers performing in an entry hallway. And I remembered how I once stood on the stage of my high school dressed as a Dickens caroler with a yellow posterboard bonnet wrapped around my head.

A sizable crowd of kids and adults gathered for holiday treats and kids' activities.

A sizable crowd of kids and adults gathered for holiday treats and kids’ activities.

Cookie decorating delighted the kids.

Cookie decorating delighted the kids.

Farther down, in the Morgan Refectory (the dining hall), kids munched on cookies they’d decorated, green and red frosting outlining their lips. They also created Christmas ornaments. I paused with my husband to sip a cup of hot chocolate, trying to warm myself after an hour in a cold ice arena. Years ago, after completing farm chores, I would thaw my numb fingers over the milkhouse stove.

A prop at the figure skating show.

A prop at the figure skating show.

These nutcrackers fascinated the kids.

These nutcrackers fascinated the kids.

The sight of kids sticking their fingers inside the mouths of oversized nutcrackers caused me to chuckle. I recall doing the same decades ago with a nutcracker my sister received from her godfather. There’s something about a nutcracker…

I entered the Shattuck complex through a rear entry and shot this from inside, showing the stone exteriors of campus buildings.

I entered the Shattuck complex through a rear entry and shot this from inside, showing the stone exteriors of campus buildings.

A reading nook in an addition.

A reading nook in an addition.

An ornament sparkles on one of many Christmas trees on campus.

An ornament sparkles on one of many Christmas trees on campus.

And there’s something about Shattuck during the Campus Christmas Walk. Even without any kids in tow, I experienced the holiday magic of this historic place.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating Christmas, Shattuck-St. Mary’s style December 11, 2012

Shumway Hall on the Shattuck campus, decorated for the 2009 Campus Christmas Walk.

Shumway Hall on the Shattuck campus, decorated for the 2009 Campus Christmas Walk.

FOR A DECADE NOW, Shattuck-St. Mary’s School on Faribault’s east side has presented an annual Christmas gift to my community in the early December Campus Christmas Walk.

Visitors are welcome into the prestigious private prep school’s historic buildings to participate in activities like visiting with Santa, listening to musical performances, ornament making, lighting of a community Christmas tree, savoring holiday treats and, later, at one of Shattuck’s nearby ice arenas, watching a figure skating show.

When I last attended in 2009, a craft show and pinata breaking were also a part of the offerings. Additionally, I meandered through the decked-out-for-the-holidays hallways, appreciating aged stone buildings constructed by those who cared about detailed, fine craftsmanship.

The spotlight and cameras focus on "The Nutcracker on Ice" figure skaters.

The spotlight and cameras focus on “The Nutcracker on Ice” figure skaters.

This year I missed all of the Campus Christmas Walk activities on Saturday except “The Nutcracker on Ice,” presented by Shattuck-St. Mary’s figure skaters. What a treat to watch this classic holiday story unfold to a full house.

Because my husband and I arrived a wee bit late, we were seated too distant for me to get any publishable action photos with my non-telephoto lens Canon, although I certainly tried.

The cast, with the little Snowflakes on the right as audience favorites.

The cast, with the little Snowflakes on the lower right as audience favorites.

So, instead, I managed, at the end, to capture a few suitable images that showcase the pageantry, but certainly do not capture the athletic and theatrical skills woven into the students’ performances.

The skaters pose for post performance photos.

The older skaters pose for post performance photos.

For the most part, I am not a sports fan. But this storytelling figure skating, I enjoyed. And bonus, because this was a gift from Shattuck, admission was free.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling