Children sing in the joy of Christmas

The sweet sound of children's voices filled the Ashland Christian Fellowship church on Tuesday night. Pilot Rock Christian School's musical "Signs of Christmas," featured the talents of the school's preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten classes as they sang carols and recited lines about familiar signs of Christmas and the joys of giving. Eager parents, grandparents, and loved ones crowded the church snapping pictures and applauding.

"It is so fun seeing the children all dressed up," said Heather Merrihew, whose daughter attends Pilot Rock. Merrihew also assists the teachers at the school. "We're all excited tonight. The place is packed."

Little girls in bright dresses and boys in starched shirts sang "Deck the Halls," "Away in a Manger," and "Christmas is a Time for Love," among other songs. Dancing, giggling, and sometimes fidgeting, the children also displayed popular holiday symbols such as wreaths, candles, and baby Jesus in a manger.

Tonya Lewis, the school's office administrator said, "We are singing Christmas carols, but the songs are centered around Christ because that's what Christmas is about."

The teachers and the children all put a lot of effort into the program.

"We've been practicing for five weeks," said Becky Brown, Pilot Rock's preschool teacher and school coordinator. "All the children, even the 3-year olds, have a line. They talk about things connected with Christmas: love, light, sharing, Jesus."

As with most theatrical endeavors, things did not always go smoothly.

"The dress rehearsal was torture," laughed Brown, "but the whole program is such fun."

Lewis agreed. "It is great. Some of the kids are doing their lines; some are picking their nose. But they are all stinking cute. It is just so neat to see your kids do something like this, to see them in their first Christmas program. They're only going to be little for a little bit of time."

This year's program is especially meaningful for the teachers and many parents connected with Pilot Rock. Last year, the school's survival was uncertain due to financial struggles. But this year, the school found a new home and support in Ashland Christian Fellowship. In his closing remarks at the program, ACF Pastor Mark Anderson praised the dedication of Pilot Rock teachers and staff.

"These people are amazing, they work so hard for the school and the ministry." he said.

Tuesday night's program also had a technological component. Video of the entire Christmas program was streamed live through ACF's Web site. This means that friends and family who were not able to attend the event were able to watch live via the Internet.

"I'm glad relatives out of state will be able to participate in the celebration in some way," said one parent.

Rebecca McLennan, whose granddaughter was in the show, was happy to see it in person. "I think this whole thing is delightful and inspiring."

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