By MADDY VITALE
From year-end parties and party concerts to toy and clothing drives, students and staff in the Ocean City School District have made the most of being back to school full-time.
“At the start of the school year, there were a lot of things that didn’t seem normal. There was still plenty of time to acclimate to coming full time and the teachers were coming back, ”said Paul Matusz, high school art teacher and president of the Ocean City Education Association.
And then something happened.
“In the last two weeks or so, before the winter break, the atmosphere became warmer and was as close to normal (before COVID-19) as possible,” Matusz said in an interview on Tuesday.
Students are on winter vacation until January 3.
The concerts, the end-of-year celebrations, and the lightness of the teachers and staff were some of the reasons Matusz credits these happy feelings.
“I think the benefits of kids who go to school every day are really showing,” he noted. “The concerts and performances that weren’t happening last year made it this year.”
A YouTube video from the Ocean City Elementary School Vacation Show.
And the focus on collecting toys and clothes to help others was a top priority.
National Honor Society students collected clothes to donate to those less fortunate.
“I think it helps put everything in perspective. We’ve all been going through tough times for the past year and a half, ”said Matusz of the fallout from the pandemic. “I think the clothes and toy drive really brings out that people are in a worse situation than you are. “
Like this year’s festivities, last year the district also held holiday door decorating contests, among other events, but the mood was different, Matusz explained.
“This year we are starting to see a children’s product start to have a normal start to the new school year,” he added. “District teachers should receive a lot of credit because they work tirelessly to improve the lives of children. Whether they’re wearing an ugly sweater or decorating, I think kids really feel the positive energy.
The Ocean City Education Association issued a message on December 22 acknowledging the students and staff:
Congratulations to all of our talented students who shared their voice, musicality and generosity this holiday season!
There is nothing better than driving under the lights of Asbury after hearing our students share their musical gifts.
Earlier this month, the band, choir and middle school theater students returned to the stage with a concert full of winter and holiday delights. Mr. Frank Butterick led the Concert Band through a range of holiday favorites.
Ms. Jen Rowe has led a group of enthusiastic singers through musical selections that are both nostalgic and festive.
Mr. Andrew Benfer’s theater students joined the musicians for the first time in providing program narration and humorous holiday skits about a gingerbread cookie and a dozen bakers.
Our teachers work with these students weekly to develop their talents, emphasize the value of practice, and teach them to be ensemble performers.
The High School Concert Choir, Mixed Choir and Select Choir performed a wide range of musical selections under the direction of Dr. Brian Schkeeper. From intricate baroque choral music to magnificent lyrical arrangements, each group performed their repertoire with confidence. Dr. Schkeeper works with the singers on the proper vocal technique, musicality, and mixing of their vocals to produce these beautiful performances.
On several selections, the choirs were joined by the violin and percussion students of Ms. Donna Schwartz.
Ms. Cholehna Weaver shared her musical talents on the piano on both evenings as an accompanist for the choirs.
The Interact Club, led by Councilors Ms. Jen Dean and Mr. Josh Handshaw, volunteered for both concerts as ushers and hostesses, as well as to host their annual cookie drive to benefit community partners, OCNJ Care and God’s Kitchen in St. Peters. Cookies have been generously provided by Kookie Kids!
Ms. Amy Andersen and her ASL students hosted a discussion with Santa Claus and ASL for OCHS ASL students, members of the deaf community and children! Such a special night for so many people!
Mrs Ashley Schmid and her Key Clubbers have collected dozens of gifts for preschoolers. There will be so many happy children thanks to their generosity!
As we count until the winter vacation, we hope your families find ways to get into the holiday spirit!