Groups perform outreach to kick off holiday season

Maya Amjadi/Staff Writer

Many different groups within Cedar Falls High School are gathering their talents to do service and bring holiday happiness to the community. The chorus students rehearsed Christmas carols that they performed while caroling before their concert on the thirteenth as well as at River Hills School on December fourteenth and the Women’s Club on the sixteenth.

The River Hills performance happened because the school contacted Mr. Elliot Kranz, choir director, asking if his Jingle Jazz group would perform for them. The group includes seniors: Carly Naaktgeboren, Sarah Postel, Chelsea Larsen, Nick Carlo, Reed Bowden, and Chris Kempf. The juniors of the group are: Sarah Welter, Erin Keiser, Kaitlyn Smith, Alex Stewart, and Ian Veenstra. The sophomores are: Josh Carlo, Ryan Ehrhardt, Kelsey McDonald, McKenzie Sesterhenn, Ann Fienup, and Amanda Harwood.

“Mr. Kranz asked us if we were up to it. We didn’t really give it a second thought. We wanted to go help from the start. The fact that River Hills choose us, Cedar Falls High School, to go, that really meant a lot,” said junior Erin Keiser.

It was amazing for the students to see that doing something as simple and easy for them as singing could have such an impact on others.

“I thought it was really nice to be able to do what I love (singing) to make these kids’ day special and exciting,” said sophomore Amanda Harwood about their trip to River Hills. The vocal jazz group has practiced since November eighth, and every Monday and Thursday morning from 7am to 8 am since then. The songs they performed included: “Caroling Caroling,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” “Hark the Harold Angels Sing,” and more carols.

The students had a lot to say about their trip to River Hills. “It was a lot of fun. It made my day. We got to volunteer with the kids and it was very rewarding. I would love to do it again sometime. I enjoyed performing for an audience that I knew would love it no matter what and would not judge. I also loved interacting with the kids afterwards,” said Harwood. “ My favorite part was after we sang our program, we sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with the audience and the “MC.” Santa came out, and the kids were so excited. It was so wonderful to see their reaction. Me and a couple other girls were tearing up.”

After the students performed they helped the kids at River Hills with face painting, puzzles, and coloring. “We split into groups and tackled the tables. It was so much fun interacting with the kids. Some of them weren’t able to participate because of their disability, but you could tell from their facial expressions that they were having a blast anyway. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Keiser.

The students are happy with their performance and the time they spent with the children. From the smiles they put on the children’s faces it was clear they made an impact. “I hope it made a difference. I thought it was a great way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas and bring people together,” said Harwood.

Student senate committees led by junior Alex Stewart and junior Ryan Giarusso are doing some community service for this holiday season as well.

Stewart’s group is going caroling and making snowmen at the Western Home off of Main Street. They are also planning on shoveling snow around the school for a span of a one mile radius.

Giarusso’s group visited Allen Hospital and read their favorite Christmas children’s books to the elderly staying in the hospital over Christmas. They made this trip Dec 19. Sophomore Shannon Moody said that the idea was inspired by group collaboration but the one to voice the original idea was her friend, sophomore Mallory Rinnels. “It just totally popped into my head, [in student senate] they said that we needed to come up with something that wouldn’t cost any money, and that would be enjoyable for others,” said Rinnels.

To set up the service, Rinnels e-mailed Allen Hospital. “They said they loved the idea and then we set up the date, the nineteenth,” said Rinnels.

Preparations for the service included finding something to read. “We decided that if they could bring a Christmas book that would be fabulous but if not, then they could just bring their favorite children’s book,” said Rinnels. The group hoped to recruit as many people as they could, not just the 10 or 15 student senate members.

The students involved are really excited to make a difference. “I want to feel good about helping someone out. It will make the kids happy and make the school look good that we are getting out and involved in the community. Its not hard and everyone can do it. Besides in the end you feel good about yourself that you helped someone else,” Moody said. The group is really hoping to brighten their audiences’ days and bring smiles to their faces.

Although these activities require stepping out of the normal comfort level of high school students, the groups think it is the best way to do service and spread some Christmas cheer. “I think that the point of the holidays is give a little more than you receive, and you should always be involved in your community whether it be Christmas or any holiday,” said Rinnels.

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