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Michigan school considered the 'Harvard' of Santa Claus schools

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Training retirees to don the red suit and fluffy white beard is very serious business. In particular, the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan has held more than 75 sessions to train Santa aspirants throughout the world, and is considered the "Harvard" of such Santa Claus schools.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Began in 1937 by Charles W. Howard, who originally served as Santa for Macy's, Howard sought to indoctrinate the utmost values and etiquette in those looking to wear the fur-trimmed cap. The Santa Claus school is now run by Tom and Holly Valent, who explain that becoming St. Nick is not a job, but a "privilege."

"We come together to share our common love of Christmas and the magical spirit of Santa Claus. The School will be filled with the love, laughter, and learning that has made it the oldest and most famous school of it's kind. We will cover all the traditions and values that began over half a century ago, along with new and updated information to keep us all in good shape, both physically and mentally," the school's Web site reads.

"During the Santa School, you will meet Santas and Mrs. Santas from around the world, whom together have over 1000 years of Santa experience. Everyone will contribute stories and suggestions that make up the Santa lore. The knowledge gained and the wonderful people attending will assure lasting memories."
 
More than 100 students from across the world gathered for the three-day intensive course. The $400 tuition gets students all kinds of hands-on training, lectures, and field trips geared toward prepping the Santas for every possible situation - from nursery school to nursing home.

Of the most importance are the snappy answers the Santas must come up with from the question many inquisitive children pose to them while on his lap.

Students have all the needed information to be the best Santa Claus possible. They are drilled in the history of St. Nicholas, songs and poems, spur-of-the-moment storytelling skills and how to say "Merry Christmas" in sign language.

More importantly, the school also helps Santas protect themselves and helps them navigate their rights during the crazy holiday season. Being a Santa is very complicated business, from contract issues to make sure they are entitled to regular bathroom breaks.

The one fast and sure rule of being a Santa is to keep your hands where everyone can see them. Even better, wear white gloves so there's no mistake about it. Liability issues are sadly a part of the biz.

The school's Web site also says students learn all about live reindeer habits practice Santa flight lessons and learn how to create the perfect rosy cheeks.

Applicants to the school must be prepared to write an essay explaining why they want to be the perfect Santa.

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