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These Photos Of Santas-In-Training Will Lift Your Holiday Spirits

These Photos Of Santas-In-Training Will Lift Your Holiday Spirits

Meet the Class of 2017 at the country's oldest Santa school.

Posted on December 19, 2017, at 8:31 p.m. ET

Terry Leahy of Loveland, Colorado, takes a selfie before a session begins.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

It takes a certain white-bearded look and a lot of practice to truly master becoming the man worthy of a plate of cookies and a glass of milk on Christmas Eve in homes across the world. Those who take being Santa Claus (and Mrs. Claus) seriously often turn to the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan. It's the world's oldest, continually running school of its kind, and each year in October, hand-selected Kris Kringles from across the country and beyond gather at the school for three days of instruction and a ride on the Polar Express.

We sent photographer Mark Felix to the school to spend time with this year's attendees and give us an inside look at what it takes to become old St. Nick.

Ross Simmons of Waiuku, Hawaii, shares a laugh with his fellow Santas during a workshop on makeup.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Steve Fletcher of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, practices applying makeup after a tutorial.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Wayne Wolczak, right, of Lafayette, Indiana, examines how well he applied makeup to his cheeks.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

This year's Charles W. Howard Santa School medal. The school opened in 1937, making 2017 its 80th year in operation.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Steve Gilliam, left, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Leon Mcbryde of Buchanan, Virginia, make their way to a bus headed to the North Pole Express train in Owosso, Michigan.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Ted Duffield of Belton, Texas, checks out the North Pole Express train before he boards. The train was used as a model for the train in the film Polar Express.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News
Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News
Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

John Collison of Macomb, Michigan, squeezes in a nap while waiting for the train ride to begin.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Jerry Julian of Colorado Springs, Colorado, looks on as the North Pole Express train leaves the station.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News
Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Rick Rosenthal of Atlanta, Georgia, talks to a couple sitting at the bar in the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Fred Ostaer of Norway shakes hands with children at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Bronner's bills itself as the world's largest Christmas store.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Glenn Westberry of Houston, Texas, strolls through aisles of ornaments.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Santa School attendees browse the suit and beard options at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Jerry Owens, left, of New Albany, Indiana, and David Becherer of Madison, Illinois, let out a spirited ho-ho-ho while performing vocal training exercises.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Rick Rosenthal of Atlanta, Georgia, works on his flexibility during a health and wellness session.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

Cortney Lofton of Northridge, California, helps carry out a sleigh.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

A sleigh with toys is loaded onto a trailer as the school's sessions come to an end.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

With the school's sessions over, the Santas head back home well-prepared for this year's holiday festivities.

Mark Felix for BuzzFeed News

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