By ABBY SLANKER
As Hilltop Elementary School first-graders anxiously waited in the hallway to enter the gym to perform their annual Grandparents Day program, their excited grandparents gathered in the gym with cameras, video cameras, iPads and iPhones to capture memories of the special day March 27.
As the students entered the gym, the grandparents twisted in their seats and stood up to get a glimpse of that special someone they were there to see. Returning the excitement, the first-grade students strained to see where their special visitors were sitting and broke into smiles when they spotted their special guests.
“Welcome. We are glad you have taken the time to join us today. Our first-graders have been working very hard in anticipation of today and they are ready to perform for you,” said Joe Maroni, Hilltop Elementary School principal, as he welcomed the grandparents.
“Now let’s take a moment before we begin to find your grandparents, wave and smile,” Maroni told the students.
Maroni then turned the program over to Tom Scurich, Hilltop Elementary School music teacher, who was accompanied on the piano by Roni Sue Gregory.
Scurich started the program with the Pledge of Allegiance and was followed by the students singing their school song, “Hilltop Elementary.” The students then sang “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”
Charn Creed, first-grade teacher, welcomed the grandparents and explained a bit about the program.
“Mr. Scurich and the children have put together a program that will whisk you away from the grips of this harsh winter and will warm your heart and make you smile. They will take you around the world and through the ages,” Creed said.
The students broke out into small groups, class by class, to perform songs with movement, including dancing, hand clapping and skipping.
With an introduction by Creed of the history of the songs which celebrated several places around the globe, the students sang the 19th century sea shanty of the Pacific Ocean “John Kanaka,” the traditional coastal Irish song “Rig a Jig Jig,” “Draw a Bucket of Water” from the Georgia Sea Islands and “Circle Round the Zero” from the streets and playgrounds of the inner city.
“Thank you for being a wonderful audience and being so supportive of our wonderful children. Music is everywhere and movement is an important part of music. Music contributes to the development and growth of the students they have had a great time learning these songs,” said Scurich.
Scurich then paid special tribute to the first-grade teachers.
“We could not do this program without the help of four diligent and dedicated ladies: Carol Dede, Charn Creed, Dottie Pesce, Joan McElroy and Lisa Ross. And the children have prepared a special treat for Mrs. Pesce, as it is her birthday and we are going to sing Happy Birthday to her,” Scurich said.
Scurich then had a surprise for the audience.
“We would now like to invite you to join us with a little audience participation,” Scurich said, as he asked the grandparents to join the children in a round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
When the round was finished, Scurich and the children applauded the grandparents.
“That was pretty good, but let’s do it again, two-times around, with feeling,” Scurich said.
When the song was over, children and grandparents enthusiastically applauded each other.
The students received a standing ovation from their very special audience after concluding the program with “God Bless America.”
After the program, the students found their grandparents in the audience and led their guests of honor to their classrooms and introduced them to their teacher, showed them their desk and presented them with a drawing as a memento of their special day.