At Davila Day School, a visit from Santa has been a long-standing December tradition, and this year was no exception thanks to the work of school staff and volunteers.
For years, the event was possible thanks to the generosity of the Southwest Lions Club. After 40 years, the service club disbanded, and its holiday tradition with the South County Deaf and hard of hearing program came to an end last year.
New Davila Day School Principal Heidi Lyon and her staff could not let a year go by without a visit from Santa, bearing gifts for every student. With support from staff and other generous supporters, Lyon and her team arranged for Santa to visit on a recent Friday morning.
This Santa visit was unlike any other for the Davila students because Santa -- aka Vadja Kolombatovic, a retired Grossmont Union High School District teacher -- also is Deaf. And, he was Lyon's American Sign Language teacher at Granite Hills High School.
Each Davila student had the opportunity to visit with Santa, sit on his lap for a photo, and receive a wrapped toy. When all the gifts were handed out, the students were led in a brief countdown and then opened their gifts at the same time -- a scene of pure excitement and joy.
The visit from Santa followed the school's annual winter show, which featured songs, dancing, and storytelling from Davila students and staff members using American Sign Language and their voices.
Davila Day School serves children who are Deaf or hard of hearing from preschool through 6th grade from South County and East County. The school, located in Chula Vista, is operated by the San Diego County Office of Education.