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Blue Mountain students bring holiday cheer to senior citizens

As the middle school chorus performed the holiday classic “Silver Bells” on stage the morning of Dec. 6, it was Christmastime once again in Blue Mountain schools.

For the fourth year, Blue Mountain honored senior citizens with a complimentary breakfast and concert in the middle school cafetorium.

David Helsel, superintendent, greeted more than 100 guests with a note of thanks for supporting the district’s educational initiatives.

“This is our small way of saying thank you to our seniors,” he said.

Evan Bixler and Luciano Keck, eighth-graders who greeted guests, expressed pride in their school.

“It’s really nice to invite people into our school,” Luciano said, “and to show them how nice it is.”

Guests sat down to tables decorated with rows of Hershey Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups shaped like Christmas trees on red and green tablecloths.

“They put on a nice show and good meal,” said Bob Petery of East Brunswick Township. “There are a lot of talented kids here, and they go all out.”

Food service director Brandy Borden and cooks Patty Gerber and Tanya Bowman began preparing breakfast for about 150 people at the crack of dawn.

Among the items on the menu: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and a cheesy hash brown casserole, Borden said.

During breakfast, the Blue Mountain High School Brass Choir entertained guests with “Hark the Herald Angels” and other holiday favorites.

In outfits that featured a Christmas tree and a snowflake, Beth Meckley and Susie Mato dressed in holiday fashion.

When they started high school in the mid-1950s, today’s Blue Mountain High School had not yet been built. After schools were consolidated, the regional high school was constructed in 1957.

As a student at Orwigsburg High School, Meckley recalled walking to the Orwigsburg Veterans Community Memorial Hall for gym classes and being bused to Cressona High School for home economics classes.

A member of the Class of 1959, Mato said commencement exercises were held in the community hall.

“Looking back, we could never have imagined what it would be like more than 50 years in the future,” said Meckley, former president of FesslerUSA, an Orwigsburg maker of women’s fashions. “And who knows what it will be like more than 50 years from now.”

Missy Kanger, a middle school administrative assistant who coordinated the festivities, said the event first was held in 2018. Planning for this year’s event began in October.

Jill Kerstetter, co-adviser, said members of the middle school student council volunteered as greeters and servers.

“Today’s program shows that education is not just about books, but it includes extracurricular activities like band and chorus,” Principal James S. McGonigle said. “It gives the community a chance to see what our kids can do.”

The middle school jazz band, chorus and show choir performed under the direction of music teachers Amy S. Sterner and Thomas Daugherty.

The high school chamber singers, chorale and brass choir were directed by teachers Tammy Wapinski and Chris Evans.

In its repertoire, the middle school chorus did a song based on “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus,” Francis P. Church’s immortal response to a letter by Virginia Hanlon published in the New York Sun in 1897.

Nathan Miller on trumpet with the Blue Mountain Middle School Jazz Band. (David McKeown – Republican-Herald)
Nick Smith on the drums as the Blue Mountain Middle School Jazz Band performs. (David McKeown – Republican-Herald)

Soloists Bella Long and Mary Whalen, backed by a chorus 105 voices strong, captured the spirit of the season singing “Yes, Virginia, he’s as real as hope and love. Look around and you’ll find Santa Claus.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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