The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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Zoo Lights and Christmas Market bring joy to Xavier students during holiday season

Each year, Xavier partners up with the Phoenix Zoo’s Zoo Lights program to continue an annual tradition for students and families. The night before Zoo Lights’ official opening, the Xavier community fills the zoo, enjoying the magic of the lights and attractions spread throughout the complex. (Photo courtesy of Carly Evatt)

With Christmas around the corner, Xavier hosts many events to kick off the holiday season and to gather families and friends. From the Christmas Tree Lighting to the Christmas Carnival, students are able to experience fun activities during and after school.  

These festivities are run by staff, Mother’s Guild and students. Two of Xavier’s favorite traditions however are Zoo Lights and the Christmas Market.  

Xavier has worked alongside the Phoenix Zoo to create a magical night for students and families. This yearly event is held the night before the public opening of Zoo Lights so this year it was on November 21. Maria Murphy-Fontes, the head of the Mothers’ Guild, is in charge of coordinating Xavier’s Zoo Lights. The Mothers’ Guild has been in charge of this for many years and it works to make sure the entire night is one to remember.  

“For one night we secure a seating area for families to come,” said Murphy-Fontes. “This gives them the opportunity to see Zoo Lights early.”

Xavier first began this tradition around 10 years ago.  It started as a one-time fundraiser, but has grown to become a Xavier tradition due to the support from the community. The experience offers a preview of the light shows before it opens to the public. 

Additionally, alumnae and families are welcome to the bakery within the zoo, reserved by Xavier, to get an exclusive experience. Here, Xavier offers treats like coffee and baked goods for Gators and families to enjoy. 

“We reach out to students, parents, and moreover the entire Xavier community to join us at Zoo Lights,”  Murphy Fontes said.

Not only do students go with families and friends to see the lights and grab some hot chocolate, but they make lifelong memories. “While we were there we made sure to attend the bakery and got hot chocolate and cookies,” Carly Evatt ‘25 said.  “The attractions at Zoo Lights included a Christmas tree lighting, many different animals in their exhibits such as eagles and lions, the bakery, and the entire zoo being covered in lights.” 

Another festivity Xavier holds is the Christmas Market. Students in groups or as individuals sell crafts or baked goods. The market includes other perks like hot chocolate and Christmas music.  

Xavier students set up tables of art crafts, bracelets and other items to sell at the Christmas Market. Students and faculty gather around the courtyard to purchase these products. (Photo courtesy of Ellie Hilsabeck, Staff Writer)

The market has been a Xavier tradition since 2016. Since then, it’s become a well-loved tradition many of the students and faculty look forward to.  Although Xavier couldn’t hold it due to Covid the past couple of years, it’s still seen as a well-loved tradition.  This year’s market was held on December 6.     

“This is a volunteer-based market where students can sell a variety of things,” organizer Zach Carlson said.  The students put time and effort into making their desserts, crafts or art projects.        

“There are 32 booths and around 60 students who participated this year,” said Carlson.  “We have holiday music playing and decorated tables.”  

“This tradition brings the community together and gets everyone in the holiday spirit!” said Evatt.

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