The holiday festivities are in full swing at .
Parents and members of the community filled Hazel’s auditorium for the school’s seasonal holiday performance Tuesday night. The standing room only venue was packed as attendees awaited for the fifth grade musicians to showcase their talents.
The PTA started off the evening with a brief meeting and raffle to support the fifth grade class. In recognition of their scholastic achievement, the school’s principal, Edwin Acevedo, handed out awards to students of the month from each grade as proud parents snapped photos. Then it was onto the main event.
The concert was divided into three performances. Music teacher Catherine Solino conducted the evening’s opening orchestra act. Starting with "Jingle Bells" she led 10 students through four seasonal arrangements as they performed on violins, violas, cellos and a bass.
Scott Tomlin, Band Director for both Hazel and , took the reins next as he conducted 19 students through a program of three songs.
"The West Orange public schools have a long history of comprehensive music education. I am honored to be working in a district that holds music education in such high regard," Tomlin told Patch.
The performance concluded with the choir. Beth Hochheiser, Hazel’s Vocal Teacher, who has been with the school for 15 years, directed her students through four holiday melodies. "I love my job. I have been with most of them since Kindergarten and I love seeing them grow and develop," she said.
Hochheiser was also a part of the spontaneous "awww" audience moment of the evening when her 9-year-old student, Jonathan Strozyk, spoke to the crowd before preforming on the piano.
Addressing the crowd, the fourth grader said, "I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for all the hard work of Mrs. Hochheiser and letting me be in this wonderful concert." Mrs. Strozyk told Patch her son was "excited to be part of this concert since it is for the fifth graders."
As with all district concerts, calendars and greeting cards were being sold to raise funds for the . In addition to the items sold, individuals made donations to the foundation which will provide free or discounted music lessons for students.
There is more in store this week for Hazel students though as the holiday spirit carries along to Friday with the school’s Holiday Boutique. The event, which will operate during school hours for students only, is run by co-chairs Karyn Kim and Namrta Shah and the help of approximately 25 parent volunteers. PTA Co-President Lisa Duke-Lees told parents at the beginning of the evening that the stage where the students are performing, "will be transformed into a winter wonderland for the boutique."
The PTA helped organize the gifts available for student purchase which Kim said included donations Hazel parents and teachers and handmade items.
Acevedo was delighted with the turnout and parent support for the concert and events at Hazel, "We are just so thrilled to have just a wonderful music program in our district. I just want to thank our parents for supporting the arts."