It can be tough to get middle school students to crack a smile.
But that doesn’t deter Pamela Perry Johnson, principal of Carnage Middle School in Raleigh. She sees it as a challenge.
“I like to make them laugh and cheer them up,” Johnson said Tuesday morning while wearing a “Frosty the Snowman” costume.
This week, Johnson and other staff have been dressing up as popular characters to spread holiday cheer before winter break begins Thursday. When students and parents pull up in the morning carpool line, they are greeted with smiles and waves from Mrs. Claus, a Christmas tree and a nutcracker.
“I know they love it, and it makes them laugh, even though they give me the side-eye,” Johnson said of her students.
On Tuesday, some students grinned when they saw Johnson as Frosty. (It was fitting in the 35-degree weather.) Some even giggled.
“I was shocked to see them in costume, but I liked it,” said Imari Montague, an eighth-grader at Carnage. “It’s very funny.”
Kim Mitchell, the lead secretary Carnage, wore a red-and-green elf costume, complete with curled toes and a hat.
“We thought it would be festive right before break,” she said.
Johnson said parents appreciate the costumes just as much as the students do. Similar gestures are typical for elementary schools but not as common at middle schools.
“I want students and parents to know that I can move between the worlds of fun and discipline,” Johnson said.
Assistant principal Ann Brame wore a felt present costume over her slacks and top.
“I’m the gift that keeps on giving,” she told students as they walked in. “Get to class!”
This isn’t the first time students have received a warm welcome as they arrive at Carnage, which has about 1,000 students. In August, parents, teachers and community leaders gathered to welcome students back to school from summer break.
When students arrive Wednesday, Johnson will be singing Christmas carols using a microphone and boom box.
“They don’t know what’s coming,” she said.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler