Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Festivities (2016)

Hard work and dedication is what got me through the remaining days of the semester.  I administered and corrected all the Social Studies exams without difficulty.  Answer keys were my "secret weapons."  I spent the weekend of December 10 & 11 writing all my report card comments.  I breathed a sigh of relief when all was done.  But I didn't have time to relax because the annual Christmas Concert was just around the snow bank.  The date had been set for December 15.  The community was made aware of the upcoming event through local radio announcements and posters that were placed in the Northern & Co-op stores.
This year's Christmas Concert had a longer program, with a total of 15 acts.  Each class was asked to prepare a short performance for parents and community members.  Classes began planning, practicing, and perfecting their routines weeks in advance.  They also worked on Christmas decorations that would be taped all over the community hall.  My drummers & I were hard at work, reviewing the selected pieces and perfecting our drum solos.  The concert committee recruited two high school students to act as Inuktitut & English emcees. 
An afternoon dress rehearsal was held at the community hall the day before the concert.  My drummers helped me move all our instruments and equipment to the community hall.  I also thanked Frank for letting me borrow his pickup truck.  Every class practiced their routines on stage to the delight of the student body and the high school emcees got comfortable speaking in front of a large crowd.  My drummers were nervous playing on stage for the first time but they survived the first challenge.  The biggest challenge would be performing at the actual concert. 
I was glad the dress rehearsal was the day before the concert.  A good night's rest would lead to better performances.
The high school students helped me decorate the community hall on the morning of December 15.  We went through several rolls of masking tape putting up all the decorations.  The hall was ready.  Ryan printed and folded the bilingual concert programs.
The concert began at 6:30pm.  The students and teachers were formally dressed for the occasion.  I gave the two emcees one last pep talk backstage before sending them out to introduce themselves & the program to the excited audience.  The curtain rose and the first act began.                 
Since it will take too long to explain each act in detail, I'm going to give you the Coles Notes version.
Grade 5
Grade 6
Preschool started the festivities with a Christmas Dance.  They danced to prerecorded music.  Kindergarten sang two Christmas songs, a cappella.  The Grade 1 class sang Silent Night in Inuktitut and English.  Grade 2 did a Christmas prayer and sang Jingle Bells in Inuktitut & English.  Grade 3 reenacted the Nativity scene and wished everyone a Merry Christmas.  The Grade 4 class performed Robert Munsch's Mortimer in Inuktitut.  The student who played Mortimer was a really good actor.  Grade 5s presented a skit titled, "Santa at Taqqut Co-op" where he gives out gifts to the people of Arctic Bay.  Grade 6 followed with a skit of their own called, "Arctic Bay Committee".  The Grade 7 class performed a comedic skit where Santa is confused and doesn't know what presents to give to the people of Arctic Bay.
Grade 8
The concert took on a brief political tone when the Grade 8s came on stage to perform their skit titled, "Nunavut's Got 'Santa' Talent".  Arctic Bay holds a talent contest and the contestants are Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.  The skit ended with Donald Trump being left behind because there was not enough seats on the First Air plane.  He had to travel back to the USA on a dogsled.
Middle school French Club.
JF's middle school French Club sang "Vive le vent," the French version of "Jingle Bells".  The Grade 9 class sang a rendition of Hedley's "Anything" but with Christmas themed lyrics.
Grade 9
The moment had finally arrived.  It was time for the high school drumline to perform for the audience.  When the children saw my drummers going backstage with their instruments, they immediately sat as close as they could in front of the stage.  We quickly set everything up and did one final check to make sure we had all our music.  I signaled for the curtains to be drawn.  I raised my sticks and clicked them 4 times.  Our performance began. 
High school drumline
My female students and I played three pieces: Beat Cafe, Sub-Sonic, and Bacon & Eggs.  All three pieces were composed by Cassidy Byars.  I continued our act with my solo.  I was glad I didn't mess up the stick tricks.  Several of my students followed suit by playing their own solos.  My quad player added a visual effect to her solo by pouring baby powder on the toms.  The powder shot up into the air every time she hit the four toms.  Our performance was well received by everyone.  We breathed a collective sigh of relief after the curtains were drawn together. 
The high school Inuit culture class continued the concert by singing & performing an Inuit western dance.  The students & teacher wore specially made purple vests.  The teacher led the students by singing and playing a large Inuit drum.

The Inuujaq School staff were the last act of the concert.  They played a game of Christmas Charades.  A teacher picked a piece of paper from a bag and had to act the Christmas song without using any words.  The audience liked watching the staff act out several well-known Christmas songs.     

My drummers helped me load all the drums & equipment into Frank's truck after the concert.  Several went with me to the school and place everything back in my classroom.  Another Christmas Concert was done.    
Friday, December 16 was the last day of school for the fall semester.  The student body assembled in the gym before lunch to sing Christmas carols in English & Inuktitut.  Elders and parents attended the event.
Santa in Kindergarten

Santa & a Grade 1 student.
Santa visited Inuujaq School after lunch to hand out gifts to the K-8 students.  He also had his picture taken with them.  (Students in the higher grades received gift certificates from the Co-op store).  High school students picked up their report cards at the main office.  When the dismissal bell rang, I wished my students a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Staff in the staff room.
The staff of Inuujaq School assembled in the staff room for one final meeting.  The meeting was more of a social gathering, with a variety of snacks & desserts laid out on two coffee tables.  The principal congratulated everyone for their hard work throughout the semester and wished everyone the best during the holiday season.
I cleaned my classroom before heading home to pack for my trip down south.  My flight was leaving the following morning and I needed to be ready.  It was hard to believe that another semester had come and gone.  Time certainly flies fast.          

See you all in the new year!

*All photos provided by Ryan. Thank you.

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