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A holiday tradition lives on

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The holiday spirit was in the air last Wednesday when a group of Baldwin Middle School students performed festive songs for residents at the Hempstead Park Nursing Home, keeping a 15-year tradition alive. 

“I thought it was magnificent,” said nursing home resident Paul Webber, who heard the students play for the third year in a row. “Anything to bring the spirit up in here is very good. The music is really good — it brings everybody up.” 

“This is one of the highlights of our year,” said Megan Ferguson-Koci, the conductor of the Baldwin Middle School Chamber Orchestra, to a room of dozens.

She and Barbara Raniere, the leader of the Baldwin Middle School Bruins Singers, a select choir, started the tradition of performing at the nursing home about 15 years ago with two other faculty members who have since moved on to the high school. 

Both the Chamber Orchestra and the Bruins Singers are extra curricular clubs that meet once a week and are audition-only advanced groups. More than 70 students took part in the festivities. 

“We’re really happy to be back here,” Raniere said, noting that she recognized many of the residents. “It’s one of our favorite things to do all year.”

Residents clapped, cheered and sang along. The students, who donned festive clothes and accessories, performed holiday songs, including We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel and Joy to the World. 

“I thought it was wonderful,” said resident Patricia Martin. “The kids were very disciplined and they knew what they were singing.” 

“For the past 15 years, Baldwin Middle School has been coming to entertain our residents, which we anticipate every year, and look forward to,” said Sheila Rienecker, director of recreation at the nursing home. “The children delight the residents with their songs and their music and we look forward to next year.” 

“It was very heartwarming seeing all their faces being lifted up,” said Camdresa Davis, an eighth grade student. She and classmates Chelsea Panky and Ellyana Yenque sang Silent Night and arranged the part themselves. They practiced for weeks. 

On the same day, school representatives said, the Baldwin High School Small Vocal Ensemble performed at the Meadowbrook Care Center in Freeport.