PARKERSBURG - Residents near VanDevender Middle School were surprised on Monday evening as VanDevender carolers rang doorbells around the neighborhood.
The group, featuring students from sixth through eighth grades, was eager to get caroling on Monday evening, despite the cold and windy weather. Students from VanDevender's sixth-grade choir joined those from the seventh- and eighth-grade choir in a parade of creative hats and bright coats to sing Christmas carols to those around the Parkersburg school.
"We have a total of 43 students in the two choirs, and hope that activities such as this will increase that number in future years," said Caryl Stines, choir director at VanDevender Middle School. Stines started teaching at VanDevender in September, but has more than 30 years of experience teaching music in Wood County Schools.
Photo by Gretchen Richards
Students from VanDevender Middle School gathered on local lawns to spread holiday cheer through the art of caroling. About 40 students, teachers, and their families walked from door to door for an hour Monday night, singing to everyone they encountered along the way.
More than 40 students, teachers and their families marched along Avery Street in the cold, knocking on the doors of houses with lights on. Residents gathered at their doors and enjoyed the caroling.
"The community is so supportive of VanDevender, and it is important for the students to recognize that support and give back to the community, even in small ways," said Stines.
Parents signed permission slips for their children to participate in the 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. caroling adventure. Rules were in place to prevent students from walking on lawns or leaving the group.
Amanda Moles, a teacher at VanDevender for three years, was excited to be part of the caroling event. "Several sixth-grade girls asked me to come along. I'm very excited to be part of it!"
Meredith Hahn, a teacher at VanDevender for six years, enjoyed the invitation as well. "I am simply ecstatic to have been asked to come caroling. I'm so excited!"
Stines was grateful for their help, and that of parents who joined the caroling group.
The students walked up Avery Street and turned right on West Virginia Avenue. They walked two blocks, turned down Hemlock Avenue, then turned up 31st Street and returned to the school for cookies and hot chocolate.
The group stopped at dozens of houses, singling such popular Christmas carols as "Jingle Bells", "Joy To The World", "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and "Deck The Halls" to residents who opened their doors.
Roy McCase, 68, of Parkersburg, a former principal at Parkersburg South High School, smiled as the carolers sang on his lawn. "It was a great surprise to see carolers. I enjoyed it immensely. Caroling is a lost tradition and I'm glad they are doing it," said McCase.
Ed and Robin Hannah of Parkersburg have been living on the caroling route for 10 years. "This is the first time in a long time we've had carolers stop by," said Ed Hannah.
"It was really wonderful," said Robin Hannah. "We both really enjoyed it."
Sandy Hughes, 74, of Parkersburg stepped outside to enjoy the caroling. "I thought the kids were just wonderful. I love carolers. I've lived in the country for years and we never got carolers out there, so this was a real treat," said Hughes.
Lauren MagRuder, 26, stood on the porch with her 2-year-old daughter on her hip to listen to the carolers. "It was such a nice surprise to come out and find a bunch of kids caroling. My daughter just loved it."
Stines hopes to turn the VanDevender caroling activity into a tradition at the school.
"Not enough people carol anymore, and every group of kids I've ever taught has always loved it. I'm hoping it sticks here as well," said Stines.