School winter concert tradition carries on

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 5:53 PM EST
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EAST DUMMERSTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As schools continue to come back from COVID around the state, students in East Dummerston are among those returning to the big stage for an annual holiday tradition.

Music is once again filling the gymnasium of the Dummerston School as the final rehearsal is underway before the night’s big show. “It just feels really good when I’m singing or acting. It’s just a really special feeling it makes come out of me,” said Taz Hand, 5th grade.

The Winter Concert is a mix of songs, skits, and a few clever jokes. “I like talking and I have a younger sister, so I like being the center of attention,” said Grace Rosa, 5th grade.

Soon, the seats will be filled with family and friends from around the region. “This is my first performance in my life,” said Mykah Lawrence, 3rd grade.

The empty chairs, in some ways, represent the void in education created by the pandemic. At one point, singing was not allowed in Vermont schools. “It was just very difficult to have an absence of music here, an absence of singing,” said Dummerston Principal Julianne Eagan. In-person education also took a back seat and athletics were canceled. “School is one of those things that we took for granted, or used to take for granted. The ability to show up.”

Students, who can once again sing freely, say the pandemic was bad for a variety of reasons. “I even developed a little bit of social anxiety,” Hand said.

“It was really hard because I didn’t like wearing masks and it was hard for me to breathe,” Lawrence said.

“When I went upstairs to do homework with my dad, he didn’t know how to do the second-grade math because it was different from when he was in second grade. He was like, ‘What does an equal have to do with B?’” Rosa said.

Teachers are dancing on this day while the kids seem to have a new respect for them. “My teacher is way better at it and I get to see my friends,” Rosa said.

And while the masks are still being worn and sickness is still a concern, the show goes on. “I really find a special place in my heart when I am acting,” Hand said.

Once the curtains close on the Winter Concert, the music program immediately shifts its focus to the Spring Concert, which takes place in May.