A colorful Christmas: Children share impressions of the season, and second-graders get encouragement from someone who remembers the joy of making art

Santa Mouse rides again.

Ten years ago, second-grader Anna Schlosser’s snowman and drawing was chosen for the cover of the annual Hood River News Children’s Christmas Carols, which has been published for more than 30 years.

Anna, now a senior at Hood River Valley High School, returned on Dec. 10 to Westside Elementary, her original drawing in hand. Anna responded to the News’ invitation to do a lunch hour visit with Joella Rockett’s second-graders as they worked on their own drawings.

Anna gave encouragement to students who are the same age as she was the year her drawing made the cover — with a mouse as Santa driving a sleigh over a snowman’s head.

Anna immediately took her place at the front of the class and talked about the good things about wintertime and Christmas, and making art about what inspires them.

“Does anyone like snow?”

“Yeahhh!” responded the youngsters.

“When I drew this picture when I was just your age I was thinking about everything I loved about Christmas. I loved the snow, I loved ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,’ and I drew me building my snowman because every year I built this huge snow man and it was so much fun,” Anna said. “When you guys are drawing your picture, I think you should be inspired to draw what you really love about Christmas.”

Anna’s visit was brief, but she sat down and connected with as many students as she could before needing to return to HRVHS.

It was kind of just like Christmas yesterday.

“I guess it’s like the little girl pulling out her crayons; it made me remember you can express anything,” Anna said. “We did so many projects and as you get older and going into schools and it’s more about homework and ‘keep on top of this,’ and this is just ‘whatever makes you happy, you can draw it.’ I can see it in these kids, they really like what they’re drawing, and it makes me remember drawing whatever I wanted to.”

She holds up her 2003 drawing, with the snowman and a sleigh guided by a rodent in a Santa hat.

“I remember drawing a lot of snowmen, but I don’t remember the mouse thing.”

The questions began to flow: “What grade were you when you drew that picture?”

“I was in second grade.” (The Carol and Coloring Book includes art by kids in kindergarten through third grade.)

Anna encouraged the students to draw what they like: trees, presents, snowmen.

“You can draw yourself doing something, or draw a house with pretty lights on it,” she said.

“Or SpongeBob for Christmas!” spoke up Julius Gutierrez.

Anna did not miss a beat.

“I guess SpongeBob is kind of a Santa Claus,” she told the boy. (“Kind of what’s going on right now,” Rockett said with a smile, pointing discreetly to the student.)

“I like snow,” one girl told Anna.

“It’s nice when it snows a lot,” Anna said.

To another student, “that’s the train, right?”

“Yes, I’m going on Friday for my sister’s birthday” the girl said.

“Oh that’s nice. What are you going to get her? Maybe you can draw her a pretty picture,” Anna said.

“Your drawing is really good,” she tells one student, and to another, “Wow, I like it a lot.”

“And, I know you know Jessica,” one girl came up and told Anna, having seen Anna perform in “Scenes from The Nutcracker” with her friend, and the two talked about dancing.

Anna has a firm memory of when she saw her picture on the cover of the Coloring Carol Book.

“It was a great feeling. It was like, ‘Oh, that’s mine.’” Another of her drawings made it into an auction in fifth grade. “We did a reading thing and we had to draw what we were reading about, and my aunt bought it for $100 — mice playing croquet. I guess I had a mouse thing,” she joked. “But the (Coloring Book) was my beginning step.”

She took art her freshman year “and I really enjoyed it, and I’m doing it again this year and I really enjoy it again,” said Anna, who is enrolled in advanced art with Cathy Stever. “We get to use a variety of materials, and it’s different than crayons and markers.”

Anna, the daughter of Vinnie and Jennifer Schlosser, competes in cross country and track, and has been accepted to both the University of Idaho and OSU; her career goal is to major in food and nutrition and sports science, and compete in track.

“I want to be in a place where I don’t have to be the leader, but I can be challenged and just run, because that’s what I really want to do.”

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