By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Three children tossed a kickball to each other as they ran around the Old Post Road (OPR) auditorium, while one of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) members configured the evening’s sound system. The kickball trio paused their game only to help test the microphone, shyly mumbling “Test. Test one, two, three,” before running around the auditorium once more.Other children soon joined them as their parents laid blankets on floor. Just a few minutes later, OPR music teacher Patti Yee asked the kickball-playing students to join their families.
The sing-along was about to begin.
“This has been a tradition in the Walpole Public Schools for over 40 years,” Yee excitedly shared. “It’s an annual sing-along and we have two just in the month of December to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, but they’re not all Christmas or Hanukkah songs; they’re songs to really just celebrate the season.
“The kids learn a lot of the songs. Tonight we’re going to sing one in German, ‘O Christmas Tree,’ and it’s just a nice time for families to come out, sing some songs, and get into the holiday spirit.”With festively decorated slides projecting lyrics onto the screen in the front of the auditorium, students could follow along to some of the more challenging songs that the children don’t learn in school, like “White Christmas” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
“They’re just traditional songs,” Yee continued. “We don’t practice every song in class. We might go over a few to teach that kids from different cultures have all different types of music, but you don’t have to be Jewish to learn a Hebrew song. Just like how you don’t have to be German to learn one of their songs, you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to sing a Christmas song, either.”
The sing-along is open to all students from kindergarten to fifth grade, but is not at all mandatory to attend. While it’s usually most attended by children in the earlier grades, Old Post Road saw representation from all grade levels as the auditorium nearly ran out of space for some of the latecomers.
While some of the older students sat with their friends that were in attendance, many of OPR’s youngsters snuggled with their parents and stuffed animals as they sang in their holiday-themed pajamas.
“It’s a tradition that’s been going on way before I’ve been here,” said Yee, who has been teaching at Old Post Road for nearly 23 years. “It’s always a lot of fun, especially for the younger kids.”