A sweet surprise: Greystone Elementary students treated to Candy Land decorations

HOOVER – When students arrived at Greystone Elementary School on the morning of Monday, Feb. 8, they discovered the hallways of the school had been transformed into a life-size version of the Candy Land game.

Gumdrop cutouts, candy canes and brightly colored squares mimicking the game board lined the walls, ushering students and staff through a cheerful childhood wonderland.

“They were in awe of it,” Greystone Elementary PTA President Michelle Olson said. “The teachers knew that we were going to be decorating the school, but I think the end product was way more than they had envisioned or expected.”

Olson and her fellow PTA members were the masterminds—and busy hands—behind the Candy Land decorations.

“As with most schools, so many programs and events that the PTA normally does have had to be canceled because of COVID. We as a PTA group have been trying to think outside the box to come up with new ideas,” Olson said. “We really wanted to do something special for the children, especially since this school year has looked so different for them. Something that would bring a smile to their face and be a special memory and let them know how much the Greystone teachers, staff and parents love them.”

Olson pitched the idea at a PTA meeting of decorating the school and received immediate support from members and the school’s administrative staff.

The next step was to determine how to carry out the project as a surprise, but also in keeping with COVID-19 precautions.

“We couldn’t decorate or take measurements with children in school during the day,” Olson said. “So, we had to go by pictures that were emailed to us and create our designs from there. We had several Zoom calls and lots of group texts to make this a reality.”

Volunteers started setting up and decorating on Friday, Feb. 5 at 4 p.m., after all students had gone home.

They worked until after 11 p.m. that night and then returned to the school on Saturday and Sunday to finish.

“Lots and lots of hours were given to make this vision a reality,” Olson said. “We had our PTA board there, and several other moms and dads there to help – with masks on and 6 feet apart. Our amazing principal, Dr. (Stacey) Stocks, and Vice Principal Mrs. (Sherita) Williams sacrificed their weekend as well to be at the school with us so that we could set up.”

Olson said the end product was worth every minute of work the group poured into the project.

“Unfortunately, with COVID restrictions, we couldn’t be there to witness the excitement Monday morning from our children, but the teachers and staff captured it for us and sent us lots of pictures and videos,” Olson said. “We could see them smiling from ear to ear through their masks. My boys couldn’t wait to get home and tell me all about the transformation to Candy Land. Some of our teachers even extended the decorations into their rooms, and they are all tying in Candy Land to some of their lesson plans with the children. It was a huge success.”

The decorations will stay up through the end of February.

“This was the first year we have done this,” Olson said, “And who knows, maybe it will become a yearly tradition.”