Local STEM school bringing drive-thru light display to life this holiday season


WICKLIFFE, Ohio (WJW) – For nearly a century, GE Lighting has been helping Northeast Ohio families get into the holiday spirit through their elaborate Christmas display at its headquarters at East Cleveland’s Nela Park.

This year, however, GE Lighting designers are taking their talents to the classroom.

“Last year, in the midst of COVID-19, we, through the whole month of December, were off on distance learning,” said Joanie Klemens, the principal at Mater Dei Academy in Wickliffe.

Before sending students off for the holidays, Klemens says teachers and staff are decorating the building with Christmas lights for a socially-distanced drive-thru display.

This year, they wanted to kick it up a notch by assigning a student project for each class, K through 8th grade, to create their own lighting display.

When faced with electrical challenges, they called GE Lighting for help.

“The school was interested in what is involved in the design, what is involved in how long it takes,” designer Debbie George said,

The GE presentation inside the school’s gymnasium will involve critical thinking to determine how much electricity and extension cords will be needed for each display.

“I’m very excited that we can show everyone our skills,” eighth grader Aubrey Terranova said.

“This is where you learn to do teamwork. This is where different people have different components and they have to bring them all together into a whole,” school administrator Father Greg Olzewski said.

A total of 12 displays will be created, and while it won’t be as elaborate as Nela Park’s holiday display, the unique collaboration will be something for the entire community to enjoy.

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