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December 9, 2003

Belleville - Santa's Workshop gets new life from deaf students

From: Stirling Community Press, Canada - Dec 9, 2003

by Kate Everson

The happy little elves in Santa's workshop are much happier now, since students at Sir James Whitney gave them new life.
Teacher Donna Fano thought it was a great idea to rejuvenate the old workshop which has been part of the Christmas display for the Fosters memorial in Belleville for 23 years. She brought the workshop back and the students got busy.
"The display was in pretty bad shape," she said. "It wasn't worth repainting so we took it all apart, copied the pattern and re-did it with new wood. We replaced almost everything, just kept the frame and the motor."
The display will go back to the Tom Gavey Alemite Park at Pine and MacDonald Street. The students also made a smaller version to keep in their own courtyard at the school. The project cost about $1,000 and was paid 40 per cent by the school and requires the rest to be made up in fund raising.
"Donations are accepted!" Fano smiles.
The students added a few things to the original workshop scene, including one elf that reflects the deaf culture. It is signing, "I love you."
A lighting ceremony was held in the courtyard on December 4 with a special tribute made to the original builder of Santa's workshop, teacher Stan Bramley, who died three years ago. A brief history was given by friend Myrna Darling, noting that the remarkable man was born in Yorkshire, England, and worked as a civil engineer before teaching at the school. "He had a natural sense of design," she said.
Santa's Workshop has been a Christmas destination in Belleville since 1979 when it was dedicated to Billy Foster who died in a car crash. Visitors to the display formed long lines every season.
The school presented the workshop to Belleville Parks and Recreation manager Larry Glover. Principal Macklin Young thanked the students and English tea was offered to the guests after the ceremony.

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