Santa school and student at graduation ceremony

That’s right, there is such a thing as Santa schools!

These schools exist to help jolly old St. Nicks keep their skills sharp ahead of the festive season. 

But there is one educational institution that has been in operation longer than any other, achieving the record title for the longest-running Santa school.  

The Charles W Howard Santa Claus School, originally located in Albion, Orleans County, New York, USA, was founded in October 1937.

At the school, the Santas learn the skills necessary to convey a convincing Father Christmas. This includes:

• How to ride a sleigh

• How to build toys in a workshop

• Learning lyrics to popular Christmas songs and accompanying dances

• How to properly dress like Santa

The lessons on how to dress like Santa even include the timings required to get into the festive get-up, for example, applying your Santa makeup should only take 30 - 35 seconds. 

Students of Charles W Howard Santa School

Of course, a lot of the Santas taking the course already sport a bushy white beard!

Attendance isn't limited to just Mr. Claus' though. There are also plenty of Mrs. Claus' in attendance. 

Some even come together, for example couple Kevin and Julia Sturgeon, who decided to attend the school to further advance their Santa skills.

Santa school students Kevin and Julia Sturgeon

One student, Bernard Brewer, says that the course leaves him feeling "reinvigorated and rejuvenated".

He went on the say that the course provides him with the opportunity to "meet old friends make new friends, see folks, do stuff and just get really in the spirit for Christmas".

"I don’t want to make Santa look bad, it's important!" – Robert Hunt, Santa student

"I think is a really important foundation for anybody that wants to be Santa," says student Michael Beurer.

"It becomes a Santa family and you can actually lean off each other. Together we're better - this is one of the main foundations I think Charles Howard was trying to portray."

Charles W Howard with his wife Ruth

The school's founder, Charles W Howard, was a farmer in New York State and a toy maker, but his great passion in life was portraying Santa. 

He did this in-store at various department stores as well as appearing as Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Charles W Howard as Santa at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

"Charlie believed to portray the image of Santa is a privilege, not a job. He built the school so that there will be better Santas for the kids and families. Santa stands for love and giving, that’s what the spirit of Christmas is." - Tom Valent, Dean of Charles W Howard Santa Claus School

"We teach the heart of Santa and that’s what stands us apart from all the other schools that have started after the Charles W Howard Santa Claus School," continued Tom.

Charles W Howard teaching Santas in his home

The school was originally started in Charles’ home, but eventually moved to a much larger site in Midland, Michigan, USA due to growing attendance. 

When the school first started, Howard received somewhere between five to fifteen students - it’s first application was from a Mrs. Hill. 

Now, the school attracts 300 students per year from all over the US. 

Charles W santa school lecture

Graduates were originally conferred with a BSC - Bachelor of Santa Claus.

Attendees of the school do still attend a graduation ceremony at the end of the three day course, where they receive a certificate to cement their achievement. 

Santa school graduate Jason Sanderson with his certificate

The ultimate aim of the students attending the Charles W Howard Santa Claus school is to make the experience as captivating as possible for all the families they meet over the festive season. 

As Santa graduate Jason Sanderson said; "You’re not just a performer, you’re also providing magic for everybody".