Deck the Halls with Cavalier Spirit: Holiday Door Decoration Winners



Student judges and Principal Ullivarri posing inside the life-sized snow globe created by Ms Leal-Garcia, the first place winner.

The holiday spirit has officially seeped into Coral Gables Senior High with the festive door decoration contest held between faculty and staff on the campus having begun. Fostering friendly competition among staff members, the contest, which was held on Dec. 2, permeated the halls with student-made decorations.

Organized by Ms. Noval, the contest was set to take place the days following Thanksgiving break. From Grinch-inspired cutouts to three-dimensional yetis, Gables’ doors emphasized the diversity across the school.

Judged by upperclassmen and Principal Ullivarri, the winning doors were announced on Dec. 3. Third place was awarded to Ms. Gonzalez, second place to Ms. Monzon and first place to Ms. Leal-Garcia.

First Place: Ms. Leal-Garcia

The winner for the door decoration contest, history teacher Ms. Leal-Garcia, brought the most holiday cheer to the 9000 building.

An idea formulated by Leal-Garcia and her students, they sought out to create an interactive winter wonderland snow globe. After one week spent decorating and putting together the final product, the idea finally became a reality.

“I found an idea online of a snow globe that had been done and made mine more elaborate by adding the lights for a snow effect, a snow-covered Christmas tree and the clear cellophane to the front of the globe to make it look real. We also made it interactive by having the judges enter the snow globe to take polaroid pictures,” Ms. Leal-Garcia said.

Around the door, Leal-Garcia attached a round silver garland to emphasize the door taking on the full shape of a snow globe. Inside the small den, mountains were hand-painted by the students alongside other handcrafted decorations.

Additionally, Leal-Garcia took an extra step and added a photo booth on the wall next to her door where Cavaliers could take pictures. When the judges passed by her room, the teacher went all out and presented her door wearing snow boots and a big coat.

Second Place: Ms Monzon

Mrs. Monzon in room 3131 took home second place in the competition, introducing the “Monzon Express” to the 3000 building. Taking inspiration from a project found on the Internet, Ms. Monzon began putting together her classroom door following the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The door came to life with the help of several co-workers and former students who graduated from Gables, which aided in the process of making the design come to life.

“I truly love the holidays…I believe my door was different from the rest because it was 3D, and it went to the other side of the hallway as well as interactive. I see many people using my door theme as a photo opportunity and that makes me so happy,” Ms. Monzon said.

The front of the door was set to resemble a train with train tracks made out of tape and a sign that read the “Monzon Express” on the top of the entryway. In addition, a Christmas tree made out of green construction paper and snowflakes were displayed, extending the decorations outside of her class and into the hallway.

What made Monzon’s design most unique was that directly across from her classroom was a decorated wall resembling a tunnel. The tunnel was headed to none other than the Cavalier home: Gables.

Third Place: Ms. Gonzalez

Managing to take third place in the contest, International Baccalaureate English teacher Ms. Gonzalez created a similar design to that of second-place winner Mrs. Monzon.

“I think so many people did a great job… My first-period class was the brains behind the design for The Gables (Polar) Express. They wanted something representing the holiday season and something they hadn’t seen yet. They also wanted to connect it to Gables in some way. My other classes added on to the ideas with Mr. Ullivarri as the conductor and my son as the little boy,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

Beginning Nov. 28, Ms. Gonzalez began brainstorming ideas on how to transform her room into a design Gables had never seen before. With the help of her Pre-IB Inquiry Skills students, Gonzalez came up with the idea of “The Gables Express”, a design inspired by the classic Christmas movie “The Polar Express”.

The door design brought in several small components which helped the full image come together. Candy canes marked the side of her doorway. At the front of the door was the train itself, made three-dimensional with yellow and black construction paper, and surrounding it were hand-cut paper snowflakes as well as Christmas tree cut-outs.

A unique touch, right next to the candy canes stood a QR code students could scan to listen to holiday music.

While there were only three contest winners, various teachers received honorable mentions for their decorations. Bringing the homey holiday feeling into the halls of Gables, the contest set the mood and reminded students that the true meaning of the holidays is coming together as one.

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  • A humorous twist on the classic door, Mr. Cipriani made himself Santa Claus and put some of his closest colleagues on the “Naughty List”.

  • Culinary teachers Ms. Vera and Mr. Flores incorporated cooking them into their door decoration, dressing up cardboard cutouts in aprons and Santa hats.

  • Third place winner Ms. Gonzalez standing by “The Gables Express”, a makeshift train conducted by none other than Principal Ullivarri.

  • The “Monzon Express” created by second place winner Mrs. Monzon was meant to depart from room 3131 and head into the CGHS tunnel.

  • Art teacher Mr. Groff posing in front of his hand-painted door.

  • Santa’s sleigh flying through the Gables hallway helped keep the holiday spirit alive.

  • Mr. Dearmas’ door reading “En Cuba no teníamos crisma”, which translates to “In Cuba we did not have Christmas”, added variety to door decorations.