Making Spirits Bright

Teacher-Carolers Surprise Mobile Home Park Residents

Cedar View Elementary teachers sang carols for the families of Cedar Springs Mobile Estates, accompanied on guitar by music teacher Matt Shutes

“Santa Claus is coming to town!” the carolers sang as they strolled through Cedar Springs Mobile Estates Friday afternoon. But when Dominick Oliver stepped outside his door, he saw, not Santa, but his teachers from Cedar View Elementary who had come to his home.

“Did you all come to see me?” the fifth-grader asked in amazement. “All of you?” When the teachers answered in the affirmative, Dominick declared, “Let’s do this!” and ran out to join them.

More than a dozen Cedar View teachers brought Christmas carols, cookies and cocoa to their students and parents on the last day before holiday break. They also brought cheer and caring to many families facing financial hardship in the mobile-home park north of town.

“It feels really nice that they would actually do that for us,” said Liza Juliano, a sixth-grader, after her former teacher Jennifer Kahler gave her a hug and a cupful of treats. Added Liza’s mother, Nicole Towle, “Out of the nine years I’ve stayed here, I’ve never seen that once. It’s pretty cool.”

“Winter Wonderland” was an apt song for the occasion, as December’s first big snowfall descended on the happy carolers.

They were accompanied on guitar by music teacher Matt Shutes. He strummed along on other favorites like “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells,” as the teacher choir sent joyful music and laughter into the cold, flake-filled air.

The outing began last year at the suggestion of teacher Noah Gregory, as a way to give back to the community and show students how much they care about them. “We appreciate all the time with the kids, so when we put it into action and they see it, I think it’s wonderful,” Gregory said.

So did fifth-grader Alexis Johnson, who sings in the Cedar View student choir. She summed up her teachers’ yuletide visit in one word: “Awesome.”

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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