N.B. Mills Elementary School hosted a surprise holiday event for its students Thursday, the last day of school before winter break.

The event, called the Happiest Day on Earth, was funded by multiple entities in the community.

The train was funded by a charitable 5K run by Crossroads Arts and Sciences Early College students Maddie Simmons and Garrett Steele. The 5K was their senior project in their Project Management course. 

See all the photos at the bottom of this article

“The community has rallied around to make sure it’s a happy place,” N.B. Mills Principal Sheliah Burnette said.

“No way we could (do) this without everyone rallying around.”

Before the event, N.B. Mills faculty told the students nothing more than to wear pajamas for the last day of class.

The students were unaware of the Christmas train ride, the games in the gymnasium, the snowman bouncy house behind the school, the gifts from Santa Claus, and the holiday singalongs with fine arts teacher Brittany Holland that were to come.

During the event, the Hickory chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority awarded the school more than $1,400 dollars through Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that focuses on supporting food-insecure children.

N.B. Mills was one of five schools selected by the sorority across Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Iredell counties.

Thelma Eley, the president of the Hickory alumnae chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, said that education was one of the sorority’s focus areas for community outreach.

“Education is truly important for us,” Eley said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated at 12:40 p.m. on Dec. 20 to clarify the funding of the day. 

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