Holiday musicals require teamwork

By Don Benjamin

Holiday musicals require teamwork | Cedaredge Elementary School, Christmas

Photo by Don Benjamin Pirates and elves and Santa together for Christmas? As one character observed, "It must be the pointy hats!" A chorus of singing and swaying fifth graders opened a week-long series of Cedaredge Elementary School performances when the

What's it like to harness the talents and focus the attention of a hundred squirming children? In the case of Cedaredge Elementary School's fifty-five first graders, you might say that it's like herding energetic bears or, where CES's fifty-seven kindergarteners are concerned, like organizing swirling snowflakes.

Just ask CES's music teacher, Andrea Kallsen, because she knows. Every year -- for four years running -- Kallsen has worked with her school's teachers and the entire student population to produce a whirlwind of holiday performances. Kallsen started at CES five years ago as a kindergarten teacher but her minor in music with an emphasis in voice led to her music role. She graduated from York College in Nebraska and taught kindergarten for seven years in Crawford before coming to CES.

And she's certainly been busy this year. Since Dec. 1, she and a host of helpers have labored to prepare 400 children for five separate musical programs. This meant two weeks of intensive set-preparation, creating props, costuming, rehearsing, and choreographing. And it all paid off last week as parents and families packed into the CES gymnasium every evening from Dec. 11-15 to hear children sing and recite holiday cheer.

All six grades (kindergarten through fifth) performed and the name of every child who sang was listed in programs handed out at each night's performance. The programs also acknowledged those who worked behind the scenes to make the shows possible. CES teachers found time for their students to practice. CES staff including the principal, Daniel Renfrow; librarian, Marla Stratman; and P.E. teacher, Amie Henderson, helped with rehearsals and other logistics and students and teachers helped make decorative backdrops, cut out bear masks and snowflakes, and set up chairs.

Herding bears? Organizing snowflakes? CES organizers can testify that's exactly what it takes to launch a series of holiday musicals. In fact, the organizers take those metaphors literally because this year all the first graders actually dressed up as bears while the kindergarteners sang a snowflake song. So thanks to everyone who made the programs a success and Merry Christmas!