Along with the rest of the country, EMS did its best to find ways to celebrate the Advent season and Christmas message despite the limitations of COVID-19 mitigation practices. The school was able to enjoy in person learning this fall with social distancing and mask wearing at all times before grades 6-12 moved to distance learning following Thanksgiving break through the new year, with elementary classes staying in person through Dec. 11. A few Christmas-related events took place before disbursing.
With the possibility of a formal program for parents and public eliminated, orchestra students performed for faculty and staff, scattered in the balcony, on November 23 after school. Enjoy “A Christmas Festival” by Leroy Anderson © Woodbury Music Company LLC (ASCAP) See a video.
A student planning team also launched the Christmas Fund Drive on Nov. 23, building on a tradition since 1948 to support the school since 1948, develop leadership skills and learn about philanthropy. Several students shared stories as part of the virtual chapel viewed in classrooms.
Seniors planned an Advent chapel service for grades 6-12 on Nov. 24 — their last day of in-person day learning before Thanksgiving break. The service included reading of the Christmas story by two faculty members who are “great with child,” Lizzy Miller and Laura Hershey Herr, both math teachers. Several class members played strings. The service, held in the auditorium and live streamed to classrooms, concluded with a recording of the song “Silent Night” and lighting of a tree of candles.
December 10, elementary students enjoyed mild temperatures, standing in distanced formation to sing Christmas songs. Grades K-5 gathered to video tape a program for parents, which featured fifth grade readers, musicians and soloists, and second grade students in the nativity pageant. See the video.
Faculty and staff enjoyed their annual Christmas celebration via Zoom, with boxed goodies to go including apple crisps made by Paul Leaman, head of school. Elwood Yoder, history and Bible teacher, shared reflections, including a recording of “Long time ago in Bethlehem,” sung by Elwood and his wife Joy, recorded in 1986. On the last day of classes before Christmas break, faculty and staff filled bags of homemade goodies and gift cards, generously provided by parents.
“We pray the holiday season will provide a time of renewal and rest for our school families and teachers,” says Paul Leaman, head of school. “We join the whole nation in a bit of weariness as well as hope for the new year. We celebrate and appreciate the personal sacrifices of our own teachers, and recognize the hard work of health care providers and other front line workers in our community.”
With a fall semester of in-person learning safely behind, the plan is for students to return to distance learning Jan. 4 for one week after Christmas break to encourage families to stay at home a week. This will assure everyone is healthy before returning to in-person learning Jan. 11, 2021.