Elementary school students sing songs of the season in Merced

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comDecember 18, 2013 

— Mayra Manzo loves to sing. The 9-year-old fourth-grader did a solo Wednesday as Alicia Reyes Elementary School first-graders in the class of Maria Perez rehearsed “Oh Holy Night” for their winter program which will be presented this morning.

Mayra worked on the familiar Christmas carol for about a month. She likes to sing opera, particularly the high notes. She also enjoys listening to relaxing music while doing her homework.

Nearly all of the 550 students at Reyes School are involved in the program that runs today from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the campus multipurpose room. Most of Merced’s elementary and middle school campuses have staged winter programs celebrating the Christmas season this week.

Claudia Ochoa De Manzo, Mayra’s mother, said her daughter is a good student and pretty talented as well. Mayra’s booming voice carried through the “Oh Holy Night” song on the school stage. She said she didn’t know the song until rehearsals for the Christmas program began in early December.

Sharon Sanchez, Reyes’ acting principal, said teachers selected the songs their students performed, and the youngsters were excited about the opportunity to sing.

Lil Ayala, the school’s learning director, said students made posters for the performance and thoroughly enjoy singing.

“It’s a nice little holiday thing we do,” Ayala said. “Every grade level participates. It’s a tradition we’ve had. The kids really enjoy performing for their parents.”

Perez’ first-graders wore angel costumes fashioned from creased white butcher paper, with help from parents. They wore gold-colored halos and held simulated candles. Teachers became choir directors, sitting below the stage and making hand motions as the numbers progressed.

Beth Allen, a Reyes third-grade teacher, said singing is a wonderful expression and a creative outlet for students. Singing also stresses teamwork and working together. It also helps with memorization exercises.

“It’s well worth it, I think,” Allen said. “It took a lot of practice, listening to the beat. They took songs home and practiced them there. It’s really special for them.”

The Reyes winter program includes traditional Christmas carols and more whimsical numbers of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” “Chocolate Christmas” and “I Got a Cheese Log.”

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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