October 2010

Annual Christmas Concert Warms The Heart

Author: Melissa Koch

Each December, as the temperature turns from a nip to a chill, the magical twinkle of the holidays begins to descend upon us. The sound of crunching leaves slowly gives way to the tinkling of bells and the sound of carols. The smell of fireplaces and home-cooked meals wafts through the air. Hearts turn to fond memories of holidays past, and children begin to stir up a sense of excitement that can only mean one thing: Christmas is upon us.

The annual “Songs from the Heart,” a Christmas concert benefiting The First Presbyterian Day School, will return this year on Friday, December 3, 2010, and is sure to bring about that sense of heartwarming wonderment that everyone looks forward to during the holidays. The evening opens with the voices of the Day School children and features community musicians, including Laura and Rusty Floyd, Chalmers Gorman, Cheryl Duren, Gayle Lang, Rick Johnson and many others. The program includes a mixture of religious and secular holiday favorites that gives listeners a feeling of relaxing in the comforts of their own living room.

Of the children’s participation in the concert, school director Sissy Jarrell says, “They always provide some surprises! We never know exactly how the children will respond to a large audience, but it is always a delight to see their happy faces and hear their beautiful voices.” The concert has become an island tradition that sets a joyful tone and spirit for the holiday season and is one of the year’s highlights for the children of the Day School.

The First Presbyterian Day School was established in 1984 as an outreach mission of the First Presbyterian Church. The preschool serves working parents of two-, three- and four-year olds and provides tuition assistance for families in need.

The Day School is a Reggio Emilia inspired school, using a curriculum originally developed in the Italian city of the same name. The Reggio philosophy sees children, parents and teachers as equal partners in a learning process that is driven by discovery. “We believe that young children are curious, capable and competent learners,” explained Jarrell. “As we observe and listen to the children, we gather ideas for topics of study. Children and teachers research these topics and work together in investigative projects. The skills that we want to provide the children are then infused into the project.”

The children hypothesize and brainstorm at the onset of each project, and exemplify their findings through drawing, sculpture, dramatic play and writing, among other things. Projects can last anywhere from a week to the entire school year, depending on the interest of the children. Out of some past projects, children have produced plays from start to finish (including scriptwriting and costume design), entered an interactive recycled material sculpture into a juried exhibit (which won them the Junior Prize), and built a tree house on their playground (with help from teachers and parents, of course)! Sometimes projects are as simple as learning about every aspect of a subject, from babies, to fish, to bicycles. Each project is documented by teachers through pictures and interviews with the children. Towards the end of each school year, the work of the children and their teachers is put on display throughout the school’s hallways, classrooms, and playgrounds in a month-long exhibit for friends and family. “I was very impressed to see how much work such little people were able to do and just how creative these groups of children could be,” said Day School parent Angela McSwain.

Along the way, children are also meeting criteria set by the National Association of the Education of the Young Child. The Day School has maintained accreditation by the NAEYC since 1994 and has also been cited as a model program by First Steps of South Carolina. The school’s teachers have mentored other childcare providers and teachers in the surrounding region.

In addition to putting on the annual Christmas concert, the Day School parents also participate in several other fundraisers throughout the year, including Birdies for Charity and selling Scrip gift cards and Brax Spirit Cups™. The school also hosts a spring fundraising event, to be announced in the near future. These fundraising activities help offset some operational expenses and maintain an affordable tuition rate.

‘The “Songs from the Heart” Christmas concert will be held in the sanctuary of The First Presbyterian Church at 540 William Hilton Parkway on Friday, December 3 at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the concert help purchase classroom materials and curriculum needs for the school. Tickets are $20 for reserved seating and $15 for general admission and may be purchased from any Day School parent or at the Day School office or by calling the school at (843) 681-3695.

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WHAT: The annual “Songs from the Heart,” a Christmas concert benefiting The First Presbyterian Day School

WHEN: Friday, December 3, 2010 at 7 P.M.

WHERE: The First Presbyterian Church

TICKETS: $20 for reserved seating and $15 for general admission – 843.681.3695

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