There’s a school for pretty much everything, and that includes learning how to be the jolliest Santa Claus you can possibly be.


The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School , a nonprofit organization established in 1937, claims to be the longest-continuously-running Santa Claus school in the world.

According to its Web site, students who attend the annual three-day, 40-hour school session in Midland, Mich., learn:

* The history of St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.

* Santa sign language

* Live reindeer habits

* Practice Santa flight lessons

* Proper dress and use of make-up

* Experience for radio and television interviews

Registration for the 2012 session is now open. The session will be held Oct. 18-20 at the Santa House in downtown Midland, Mich., on the corner of Isabella and Main Streets.

The dean of the Santa Claus School is Thomas Valent. Valent was featured in a CBS segment in 2010 by Diane Sawyer, who noted that the Michigan school started decades ago with two students and now has about 100 each year.

Valent told Sawyer that a key lesson is teaching prospective Santas how to answer children’s questions.

He was quoted as saying: “They’re going to ask a lot of questions about the North Pole. They want to know ‘how old is Rudolph?’ Rudolph is 71 years old this year. He was born in 1939. They’ll want to know how many elves you have. I always tell them I have 886 elves … I don’t know where I got that number, but that’s what I’ve been telling them for 35 years, and it works.”

Less well-known is the Santa Claus Academy — the next session is Feb. 18, 2012 — where, the Web site says, the Brotherhood of the Direct Descendants of Santa will teach “the art of being Santa.”

Highlights are said to include:

* Hair care for Santa

* Questions kids ask

* What’s deductible?

And students can participate in a Ho Ho Ho contest.

The best news: No standardized test at the end.


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