This year a new twist was added on December 18 to the Bentley school’s Christmas concert. For the first time, there was a matinee as well as an evening performance. Other schools have done the same thing due to burgeoning numbers and the cost of renting a bigger facility.
In past years the Christmas concert was staged at the Blindman Valley Ag Centre as a one-time big evening production. This year the Bentley elementary gymnasium was the scene of the program. Although there was some initial opposition, both performances were well attended.
For a variety of reasons, including no extra effort to haul and set up all stages, props and extra seating to the Ag Centre and back to the school, and just the convenience of being able to decorate and practice ahead of time at the school, and to test sound and lighting equipment without extra arrangements, made the school more feasible.
Because the venue was smaller the audience was closer to the production for better viewing. People who could were asked to attend the matinee performance leaving more room in the evening for an expected standing room only audience.
At the school, the performers could leave the venue and wait and be entertained in classrooms, and entering and exiting the stage was much easier. Even babysitting in the elementary library was made available. All this made for less distraction and noise for the audience during the performance.
Emcees were grade 11’s Thomas Mueller and Taylor Hand who gave a historical accounting about each set (group of songs).
The program opened with a staff presentation of “The Night Before Christmas”: nice to see the staff join in!
The preschool sang the ABC song and S-A-N-T-A to the tune of “Bingo Was His Name-O” and the kindergarteners did a medley of reindeer songs while sprouting their reindeer antlers.
Grade 1 and 2 sang “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” and held up their drawing of a hippo at the conclusion of their set.
“Holly Jolly Christmas” was sung by the Grade 3 as they entered the gymnasium and took their places on stage then they sang “Silent Night” with an unusual twist. There were three young ladies who speak German in Grade 3 this year, and with guidance from show director / producer / Fine Arts teacher Marla Kolybaba, aided by her daughter who is studying in Munich Germany and an internet web site, the entire class practiced and learned and sung the song in German.
The Grade 4 did a very lively version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with performers popping out all over from behind and inside of props which kept the heads of the audience swinging around to see where the next student(s) would pop out from. It was very entertaining, and the performers timing was meticulous.
For the next item in the program you could have hear the proverbial pin drop. The entire Grade 5 class was silent while on stage. They performed “O Little Town of Bethlehem” without making a sound. They did the entire song in sign language while dressed in dark colors and wearing white gloves, and being illuminated with black light. The coordinated movements of the bright white gloves kept the audience in awe. The only sound was the accompanying methodical background singing of the song by Ms. Kolybaba and Grade 12 student Vivien Schunk. Custodian Lucy Anderson was very helpful ensuring the movements were learned exactly correct. It was astounding!
The junior high Fine Arts Class performed with the hand bells and senior high Fine Arts students Vivien Schunk, and from grade 11 Christianna Alapo, Taylor Hand and Chris McLaren sang “Light a Candle” while the grade 5’s silently held candles in the dark on stage, the artificial candlelight in many cases illuminating a wonderful child’s face.
Kolybaba said she picked “old fashioned Christmas” as the theme in honor of Bentley’s 100th anniversary coming up and that the concert happened as a result of the collaborative decision of the entire committee who helped her put it on.
A Grinch Christmas bouquet/tree was auctioned off by teacher Mr. Jason Hazlett, ‘guest auctioneer’, at the conclusion of the afternoon performance and all the other classes fundraising Christmas baskets were raffled off after the evening performance.
There were far too many students, parents, and others that helped behind the scenes to mention them all but without them it wouldn’t have been possible.