Twinkling lights and crimson poinsettias adorned the stage of the Emmaus High School auditorium. An array of students dressed in red and green stood on risers, their faces beaming. The lights dimmed. Parents with hopeful eyes sat in their chairs, and the students on stage hushed.
On Dec. 20 during eighth and ninth period, the EHS Chorale sang an in-school holiday concert for parents, students, and teachers with the help of a few friends. They teamed up with the special education department to perform; an old EHS tradition which, up until recently, had to be cancelled due to scheduling issues. According to music department chair Rita Cortez and administrative assistant Deb Muthard, the new Flex Block schedule helped revive the tradition, giving them time to practice.
“Years ago [Muthard and] I used to do a combined [concert], but then it got too hard to schedule,” Cortez said. “Now with the Flex Block, that was perfect. I talked to her because she had helped before, and we talked about inviting parents, we talked to the special ed people.”
The goal of the concert was to reignite the spirit of the holidays and bring the EHS community together. Teachers, parents, and students alike experienced a sense of joy from the performance. Sophomore and singer Fionnuir Ni Chochlain felt a feeling of purpose.
“The Christmas spirit coming from this [concert] was great,” Ni Chochlain said. “I think everyone can give a little and give back, in some way or another.”
Viewers felt the joy as well. As parents looked on at their students singing, it made them happy to see their students being included. Robin Urenko, the mother of a special education student, was pleased to see her son connecting with others.
“I just think it’s such a nice piece of inclusion, for the kids to be included in something like this that they wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to be involved in,” Urenko said. “This was the nicest Christmas show that I’ve ever seen.”
As the students sang holiday classics like Jingle Bells and Silent Night, they were able to bond through something that they could relate to: spirit. They wore red and green, as well as reindeer ears and Santa hats. In their hands, sparkly bells which they rang to the tunes. Special education student and junior, Jojo, was certainly very “happy” after the performance, along with others on stage and in the audience.
Cortez felt pleased with the outcome, and hopes to tie more EHS music groups into the concert next year.
“It really was special, and I have bigger plans,” Cortez said. “I think I’m gonna do it with the whole music department. It’s only going to get better.”