Elementary school concerts bring gift of cheer during holiday season

NEIGHBORS

December 08, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

"It's the Gift of the Season" is sung by the fourth- and fifth-grade chorus at Hampstead Elementary.

Winter concerts at elementary schools are just that: a gift. If you can listen unperturbed by the bumping and squirming and nervous glances of the children on stage, what you hear is beautiful: children who are cheerful, children who are learning patience and discipline, children who are discovering music is a treasure.

Anyone can attend elementary school concerts, including people new in town, those who are reaching grandparenthood and those with children in other schools. Concerts are free.

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Attend the Winter Concert at Hampstead Elementary, Dec. 15 and 16. The band, under the direction of Lori Douglas, is made up of fifth-grade students. The fourth- and fifth-grade chorus, under the direction of Julie Hollenberg, with accompanist Chrissee Harrison, will sing holiday songs, including "Alleluia," "Shine Hanukkah" and "Star of Bethlehem."

The evening performance is at 7 p.m. Dec. 16. Daytime performances are 9:30 a.m. Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16. The chorus will also perform at Cranberry Mall at 11 a.m. Dec. 18.

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Tomorrow morning and evening, the fifth grade of Manchester Elementary will present "Forever Free," a drug information program with a musical twist. The performances will be directed by music teacher Donna Furbay and presented in conjunction with the school's "Just Say No" club, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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Dressed as snowmen and snow women, the entire 120-child second grade forms the chorus for the musical production "The Runaway Snowman" at Spring Garden Elementary.

Three performances are scheduled: 10 a.m. Dec. 15, 2 p.m. Dec. 16 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16.

Written by popular children's chorus composer Jill Gallina, a dozen special parts and four lead roles all are played by the children.

Music, written by John Higgins, will be provided on tape.

The production will be videotaped for sale to families.

The story: When Happy the snowman, played by Frank Berry, is built by the star of the show Robin Hill, played by Suzanne Jugo, he comes to life and can talk.

Freddy Fasttalk, played by Brandon Moffitt, assures Robin and Happy that profits can be made with a talking snowman. But the stress of being a celebrity leads Happy to melt . . . and all learn a lesson about friendship. Robin's mother, Mrs. Hill, is played by Renee Rogers.

Parents volunteered to create scenery, props, makeup and add detail to the production.

"The parents, as usual, of Spring Garden are doing the scenery and costumes. Without their help, we wouldn't be able to do this," said choral director Idalea Rubin, expressing her appreciation.

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Three weeks ago they went to school: moms and dads, grandparents and friends. Although visitors are welcome every day in public schools, it's during American Education Week (Nov. 15-19) that parents and friends are really encouraged to see their child's classroom in action.

After visitation week, parents could confer with the child's teacher, a one-to-one visit to share concerns and insights.

At North Carroll Middle, 242 people visited 555 classrooms during American Education Week. That's twice as many as in 1988. The parents of the 962 students at N.C. Middle really turned out for conferences: 1,168 parents conferred with their children's teachers. That's an increase, too. In previous years, about 870 parents attended conferences.

At the high school level, parental involvement is understandably different. In a student body of 1,114, seven parents visited and 193 sought conferences with teachers.

At Spring Garden Elementary, 1,117 visitors sat in on classrooms during Education Week. There were 618 parents and grandparents who visited Hampstead Elementary, and about 350 visitors at Manchester Elementary.

At Spring Garden Elementary, with 792 students, 675 conferences were held -- about 85 percent of the students. With a student body of 595 at Hampstead Elementary, 424 conferences were held.

There were 557 conferences at Manchester Elementary, where 775 students are enrolled. At Hampstead and Manchester elementaries, conferences were held for about 71 percent of the students.

When parents are involved, the school improves, says Spring Garden art teacher Jan VanBibber.

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