Early Friday morning, the last day of school before Christmas break, the Marietta Middle School gym is teeming with chatter from a sea of students being seated for their 2013 Christmas concert.
This is my third concert in three days, having attended the Washington and Putnam Elementary programs on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The amount of excellent music performance in our local schools is truly amazing, given the limited time allowed for music classes in the schedules.
By the end of the morning, my heart brimmed with pride for Marietta's students, music educators, and teaching staff. Hundreds of children benefit from the gift of music curriculum, and their enthusiasm for artistic expression is transmittable to their audiences when they perform.
This morning, for example, the sixth grade band gave credence to the art of reading composition while watching the conductor, and holding endings together as one musical body.
In the same vein of cooperation, the sixth grade choir wowed the audience with "The Spirit of Christmas." We soon tapped toes to "Reindeer Rattle 'n Roll," which featured animated choreography executed on risers, a challenge that couldn't have been easy on steps, no less. This song was accompanied by student bass guitarist Henry Burton.
When the seventh grade band took their seats, "Christmas Rock" with percussion highlights kept the energy going toward the seventh grade choir. "In Our Town in December" had four soloists with three-part rhythms coming out in "Going on a Sleigh Ride."?
The more mature literature of the eighth grade band included three soloists for the smooth, "O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night" and "Deck the Halls with Drums and Voices."
The tide turned quickly for the eighth choir when a boogie woogie dance piano accompaniment of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" came forth. This time the boys' section brought various rhythms across the girls' harmonies of the chorus that stirred up a rich texture to the popular song.
As a beautiful gold ribbon for the holiday program, various class compassion projects were announced throughout the concert. These are opportunities for the students to brainstorm and implement fund raising for various causes.
The sixth grade, for example, raised a gift of $1,000 for the Strecker Cancer Center this year.
St. Jude's Children's Hospital received $1,350 this year from the middle school seventh graders. Mr. Porter announced that in the last seven years, a total of $15,000 has been given to the hospital, with the project spear headed by teacher Kathy Finley.
The eighth graders hosted a pajama day at school that raised over $135 for the Ronald McDonald House this year.
Awards were given to three of 66 students for perfect attendance, who have not only been in class every day, but also arrived at school on time.
Plus, an Act of Giving paper chain was stretched across the length of the gym floor, with each loop representing one student act of kindness. Various efforts included helping others with homework, carrying books for another, clearing lunch trays, any way to show compassion and help toward another.
When the concert finale combined all choirs and the eighth grade band for "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "Let It Snow," and "Winter Wonderland," everyone was captured in the student's Christmas spirit.
My hat is off to music educators: Michael Tobar, Scott Rieder, Michael Dunaway, J.D. Benson, Matthew Britton, Ernie Cornell, and Elizabeth Thacker.
Marietta City Schools is proud of their students for many reasons. In addition to scholastic endeavors, they are being educated in life lessons such as community volunteerism, working in groups, music and art appreciation and performance. They learn how little gifts, put together with others can make big things happen.
Middle school principal Mr. Hampton says it so succinctly: "Our teachers have very giving hearts."?