Getting Ready for the Program
When I was a kid, the days following Thanksgiving and those leading up to Christmas vacation were especially busy at the Morapos School because we had to get ready for the Christmas program. In those days all of the people in the community gathered for such celebrations that were held at our country school (and even at schools in the surrounding area). The Christmas program was attended by not only parents but also relatives and neighbors so we wanted to make it special.
Every day after Thanksgiving, we students did our school work and then practiced for the program. It must have been a challenge for the teacher when she planned out the program because, depending on the year, there were maybe six to eigh students enrolled in the Morapos School (maybe even less). The grades ranged from 1 through 8, and the teacher had to find appropriate parts for all of the students.
Each student was assigned a poem that was to be learned and recited from memory. The teacher wrote out the poems by longhand and sent the papers home with the students so their parents could help them with the memorization. We practiced singing Christmas songs as a school group, too, some years accompanied by the teacher on the piano.
Ahead of time, the teacher ordered a play book from somewhere and selected a 1 to 2-act play (or more) depending on the number of kids who were old enough to learn speaking parts. I don’t remember any specific plays, but I do remember the year that our teacher was especially talented when it came to puppetry. She had made some beautiful animal puppets with large cotton-stuffed heads that were attached to sticks. The kids with puppets were hidden behind a curtain, and as the teacher read the script the students moved the puppets. I especially remember a giraffe puppet. Needless to say, the puppet show was a big hit.
The program was set, and we practiced, practiced, practiced. A parent brought in a Christmas tree, and we pulled out a box of Christmas ornaments and lights that had been stored for a year and decorated the tree. At the same time one or more mothers pulled the stage curtains out of a box, assessed them for mouse holes and then took them home for laundering and mending.
We helped the teacher rig up the curtains so that we made a stage in front of the classroom (where the teacher usually had her desk). The curtains opened and closed, and there were side areas where students waited before walking on stage. I can remember how magical the classroom seemed during that time.
The night of the program arrived. We kids were all dressed up. Mom had made my sister and me taffeta dresses. The audience filled the classroom, and we students suffered from stage fright. I remember the year that I played “Silver Bells” on the piano. I was so nervous that I goofed up plenty. The teacher stayed in one of the off-stage areas and prompted kids when they forgot words and lines.
Afterwards there were treats for all, packaged ahead of time by mothers, and we students had a gift exchange. We received lots of praise for a job well-done. Memories…
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