Lehighton Area Middle School Music Department celebrated "Christmas Around the World" at its 19th annual holiday music program on Thursday evening to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters of the arts.

According to Thomas Weidner, fifth and sixth grade band and chorus director, "Our students have been working very hard since late August to present an outstanding program to the Lehighton community."

Under the direction of Weidner, the jazz ensemble opened the evening's concert with "Frosty the Snow Man," a laid back swing piece. Eighth grade trumpeter Jacob Hoffner was the featured soloist of this selection. The jazz ensemble then performed "Deckin' the Hall" – based on the popular Christmas carol "Deck the Halls." The featured soloist on this number was Brock Heckman, an eighth grade trombone player.

Also under the direction of Weidner, the fifth and sixth grade band opened their portion of the concert with "The Little Drummer Boy." "Stars and Angels" – a blend of "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" – followed. The fifth and sixth grade band's final selection of the evening was "Rockin' Ol' St. Nick."

The Treble Chorale, consisting of fifth and sixth grade students under the direction of Weidner, concluded the first half of the program with "It's Christmas Time," which is based on Jessel's "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers." Next, the chorus performed an original piece entitled "Candle in the Night." "This Peaceful Night" – a blend of original material with "Silent Night" – followed. The Treble Chorale concluded their portion of the program with Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

Under the direction of Laura Welkey, the seventh and eighth grade portion of the program began with the show choir Music Express Junior – opening with Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad." Next, the group performed an original by Jay Althouse entitled "Christmas on the Beach in Malibu." The show choir concluded their portion of the program with the Hawaiian Christmas classic "Mele Kalikimaka."

The Choraliers, the seventh and eighth grade chorus – also under the direction of Welkey – opened their portion of the program with a piece sung in Hebrew entitled "Hava Nashira." Their next selection – "Here We Come A-Caroling!" – is a collection of British carols. "A La Nanita Nana" and the visually entertaining "Holiday Lights" followed. The Swahili piece "Chapua Kali Desemba" featured soloists Ben Cordova, Brianna Keiser, Blade McCabe, Todd Schaeffer, and Kira Williams. The Choraliers concluded their portion of the program with the humorous "The Twelve Days After Christmas." Lehighton Area High School seniors Laura Cressley and Michael Warkala returned to the middle school to accompany the Choraliers with two of their selections.

Under the direction of Beth Perkins, the seventh and eighth grade concert band concluded the holiday music program. Their first selection was "Holiday Highlights" by Mark Williams. This was followed by an arrangement of the modern Rutter classic "Candlelight Carol." Their next selection was "Minka's Sleigh Ride" – an original piece by Pierre La Plante. Written by Tchaikovsky's close relative, P. Eyeitch Tchaikovsky, concluded the evening's concert with "The Nuts and Crackers Sweet."

Perkins gratefully acknowledged the support and cooperation that the middle school music department has received from the administration, faculty, and staff throughout the year. The Music Department also thanked the custodial staff and the middle school stage crew for all of their help in making the concert possible.

Under the direction of art teacher Diane Micheletti, LAMS Art Seminar students hosted an art sale as part of the holiday music program. All proceeds from this inaugural art sale benefited the students' spring field trip to The Banana Factory – a visual arts and education campus in Bethlehem, PA.

Emphasizing the importance of the arts, the Music and Art Departments shared the following statistics:

Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full school year are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement; three times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools; four times more likely to participate in math and science fairs; three times more likely to win an award for school attendance; and four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.

For more information about all that is going on throughout Lehighton Area School District, visit www.Lehighton.org [2].