Winters Mill Chorus spreads holiday cheer

By Autumn Rose Advocate Staff Writer Carroll County Times 

Chorus students at Winters Mill High School are warming up for their annual winter events, with a focus on getting out and spreading cheer in the Westminster community.

Caren Bezanson, a music teacher at Winters Mill, said the chorus students will kick off their winter performances with the Winter Concert Dec. 13.  It’s a great variety of songs,” Bezanson said. “We start with ‘Chorus of the Bells’ and end with the ‘Hallelujah chorus.’”  The show will also include variations of “Jingle Bells,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and even Justin Bieber’s song ‘Mistletoe,’ she said.  One of the songs will feature a performance by the school’s Dance 1 class, according to Bezanson.

Tickets to the Dec. 13 show, which starts at 7 p.m., are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for students.

But the Winter Concert is only the beginning of the chorus students’ busy schedule of December performances.

On Dec. 15, ensemble students will walk around the community caroling, to get residents into the holiday spirit.

In the morning on Dec. 17 and 18, two of Bezanson’s classes will walk from the high school over to Brightview Westminster Ridge Independent and Assisted Living center.

Gertrude Turner, activities director for assisted living at Brightview Westminster Ridge said she came up with the idea to bring chorus students in to sing for residents when Brightview opened six years ago.

There were high school chorus students working at Brightview at the time, and Turner said they mentioned wanting to sing for the residents.

She emailed Bezanson, and since then, Winters Mill chorus students have visited residents every winter. They will sing in the assisted living section of Brightview on one morning and in the Alzheimer’s or dementia area in the Wellspring Village the other morning.

Bezanson and Turner said the students who participate sing for the residents and they also play hand bells and teach the residents how to play.

“The residents enjoy it immensely to see the students coming over here, and it’s wonderful to see children come here that are very well behaved, polite and are very helpful,” Turner said. “They love when the students sing with them and the students help them and show them the different notes to play with the hand bells. They actually interact with them and enjoy doing that.”

Turner said on Dec. 13 residents from Brightview will also walk over the Winters Mill to attend the Winter Concert.

On Dec. 19, chorus students from the Ensemble and Select Choir classes wrap up their winter performances with a day-long community tour event.

First, students travel to East Middle School and sing for the eighth graders.  “It’s kind of to pep the eighth graders up and start recruiting them for next year, so my students get really excited about that,” Bezanson said.  After visiting the middle school, the students travel to a local elementary school — this year they are going to Cranberry Elementary School to perform.

And finally, they will complete their community tour with a performance at The Arc Carroll County.

“The Arc is always a wonderful place to go because the students who have never been there before are just shocked, they look like deer in headlights, but they learn a lot,” Bezanson said. “At the end of the concert I make them all go around and shake hands with everyone at The Arc and introduce themselves. After they have done that they come back and they are so excited they want to get jobs there and they want to volunteer.”

Reach staff writer Autumn Rose at 410-857-3315 or autumn.rose@theadvocateofcc.com.