Now we’re back to His birth, a time of new beginnings. Every year there is a new generation of believers, a fresh crop of listeners as the story is told and re-told.
Someone is continuously adding new elements, enhancing the story with everything from bells jingling on a horse-drawn sleigh through snow drifts (something only one-in-a-million Georgians might have experienced), to a bearded, red-suited, very overweight North Polian who manages to drop through chimneys in homes that don’t have fireplaces.
I’m reminded of that image of Santa kneeling at the manger. The picture speaks volumes, portraying our humanity and the Babe’s divinity, bringing our man-made Christmas baggage to the side of the symbolic feeding trough where the Bread of Life sleeps.
While our spiritual hope lies in that manger, our physical hopes lie in the coming generations. These thoughts came to me as I watched and listened to Woodstock Elementary’s fifth-grade chorus during its annual Partners in Education Tour.
The Partners in Education, PIE, is a Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce program designed to provide support to students in Cherokee County.
More than 200 businesses are working with local schools to enhance the educational opportunities of students. Donna Rotruck, Woodstock Elementary music teacher, chooses to show appreciation to the school’s partners by taking this “show” on the road every year early in December.
Granddaughter Blake and I were privileged to accompany the group on Friday as they presented quite a production.
The day began with their presentation in the school’s cafetorium where the monthly Morning BUZZ meeting of Main Street Woodstock was held.
Then we left to visit the Woodstock Fire Department, Publix at East Cherokee, Walmart at Bells Ferry, Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, and ACRU/Copper Coin Coffeehouse, a full day of singing and performing.
The program included a true holiday mix. It didn’t scrimp on the use of the word Christmas. In fact, the first song, “Getting’ Ready for Christmas,” put the audience in the mood.
Then “Do You Hear?” asked those questions that get us on the right track, “Do you hear the sounds of joy….and laughter…the magic that this joyous time can capture…”
Then the students put aside the holiday to sing their new anthem, “Woodstock of My Heart,” a catchy little tune with easy words and contagious rhythm that every child at Woodstock Elementary has learned. (The song is my brainchild, and I am brought to tears each time I watch the different groups and see their smiles, and their feet keeping time.)
And while they were having so much fun, they belted out “Rudolph,” complete with a Rudolph who could put Fred Astaire to shame. (Each performance featured a different Rudolph.)
This was followed by “Go in Peace,” a somber, touching melody with words we needed to hear. The final song, “Shout!”, was an exercise in exercise as the kids raised their arms high, and sang with extra gusto. Ms. Rotruck had trained them well.
Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her professionalism is commendable. I first watched her in action when Blake herself (who is now 20) was a student.
Programs presented at PTA meetings and other school functions became highlights of the school year. The gym at the old school on Main Street was not famous for its acoustics, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of Ms. Rotruck or her students.
The move to the new building brought not only better acoustics, but a better atmosphere, more room, improved technology, and ideal conditions for displaying the talents and creativity of not only the music department, but the art and physical education departments whose leaders lend their own expertise to the activities of the music department.
Thanks, Ms. Rotruck, and fifth-graders. And thanks to those Partners in Education for giving you a stage. Of such is Christmas made.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.