Story by ANNA BURLESON • Photos by BENJAMIN ZACK • Standard-Examiner staff

SOUTH WEBER — The White Witch sat on her throne and smiled, but that was going to change very soon.

Aleesha Merrill has played this role for about five years at South Weber Elementary School’s annual Narnia Day. She said it’s magical to be able to bring “The Chronicles of Narnia” to life for the school’s third grade class.

Dressed in head-to-toe white with a spiky crown, long glittery eyelashes and blue lipstick, Merrill said she doesn’t prepare to get into character, it just kind of happens.

“I have this switch that flips,” she said. “I’m normally a quiet person but you put me on a stage and it just, I don’t know, it happens.”

Moments later a group of students filed in and the switch flipped. The children fell silent as Merrill traipsed between rows of chairs, reprimanding those who dared speak in her presence and demanding to know how the “Sons of Adam” got into her kingdom.

The White Witch was one of many characters at the school Thursday, May 25. Mr. Tumnus, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the mean Mrs. Macready and a handful of others from the C.S. Lewis classic were brought to life by teachers and parent volunteers.

Rex Packer, the dad of a student at the school, said it was his first time playing the half-goat half-man Mr. Tumnus. He had played trumpet years ago but as an accountant, he had just recently learned how to play the character’s flute.

“I’m having the hardest time with the English accent,” he said, laughing. “I keep getting an Irish and Australian thing mixed in.”

Third grade teacher Deborah Sheffield said Narnia Day began ten years ago with a parent who had heard of schools doing a Harry Potter day and wanted to do something similar.

Ever since, the event has continued to grow and get more elaborate. Students moved through the school's campus as characters in the book gave education presentations.

Warriors taught the students about the science of catapults, the White Witch and her minions explained how dry ice works, Mr. Tumnus taught flute-playing and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver talked about animal adaptations.

“It’s a book they can really identify with, they love the characters who are children and it lends itself to a lot of different science concepts,” Sheffield said.

Third grade student Lottie Squires was particularly excited to meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver because they’re helpful characters in the books.

“It’s actually really fun because you get to go on scavenger hunts but I’m really excited to see the beaver,” she said.

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Crystal Hansen, a parent volunteer, said it took them about five hours the night before to decorate the various rooms throughout the school.

But it’s worth it. Her husband’s cousin got to experience Narnia Day and even though she’s a high school senior now, she has kept her Narnia Day keepsakes and photos.

The day ended with a flour battle between the children and their parents, led by the evil White Witch.

“The parents love it,” Sheffield said.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at