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Students and staff help By Rachel Adamson


Strings for smiles


n Dec. 11, orchestra students took the opportunity to perform for a different type of audience than what they are used to, children with leukemia and lymphoma. “They [the kids] seemed really happy,” sophomore Maggie Williams said. “I know they probably don’t get to have that feeling a lot because of what is

happening in their lives, so it was nice to be able to see them like that.” Williams was one of about two dozen orchestra students who played at the event, a holiday party sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that gives children and their families the opportunity to enjoy the holidays in a safe, controlled environment. “We danced with them a lot, and 1 made gingerbread houses,” said Williams. “They wouldn’t stop smiling when we did that.” For sophomore Savannah Brown, the experience was made even more bittersweet by a previous personal experience. “When I was younger, my mom had this friend named Kelly,” Brown said. “I don’t really remember her [Kelly]

having hair, because she had leukemia for as long as I’d known her. A few months before she died she gave me this bandana that said ‘Love’ all over it. When she died, I started using it to wipe off the strings on my violin. Now every time that I play I always think of her.” Both Brown and Williams have been playing the violin since fifth grade, but this was the first time either had used her talents to perform at a service event. “I never thought about being able to do things like this,” Williams said. “I only thought about playing concerts. When I see them [the kids] it makes me really glad because I never expected to be able to make someone smile just by playing a simple song.”




1. One of the children with cancer builds a gingerbread house with the orchestra students on Dec. 11. Photo by KatieBullock. 2. Sophomores Ana-Le Lund, Ashley Johnson, Maggie Williams, and junior Kashe Turner lead the children in the Macarena on Dec. 11. Photo by KatieBullock.

Warming the holidays


he Christmas tree in the main office serves as more than just a decoration. During the month of November, the tree was used for a service project called “the Tree of Warmth; Sock it to Me.” The idea stemmed from a project that advisory classes used to participate in five years ago and has continued ever since. “We had what we called the possibilites project, so every advisory class did a project to help the school, help the community, help the world. As secretaries, we don’t have an advisory class so we came up with the Tree of Warmth,” data coordinator Pamela Wiltfong said. “We just put up the Christmas tree in the month of November and we asked for hats, scarves, socks and gloves.” “Sock it to Me,” was the first time a theme was incorporated with the Tree of Warmth and was done to put a focus on a need for socks. “This year, we still had plenty of hats and gloves from previous years so I said ‘what about socks?’ because we don’t always get a lot of socks so this time we did the theme ‘Sock it to Me,’” Wiltfong said. With help from students and

staff, according to Wiltfong, the Tree of Warmth was successful. “One of our teachers works part time at Dick’s [Sporting Goods], every weekend he got out of the clearance bin a bundle of socks and brought them in,” Wiltfong said. The Tree of Warmth collected 27 hats, 54 pairs of socks for boys, 38 pairs of socks for girls, 10 pairs of gloves and three scarves. These items will then go back to students who are in need at Tonka and the items that are leftover will go to feeder schools. “I’ve always had a roof over my head. I’ve always had food in my belly,” Wiltfong said. “I hope the impact lets the kids know that we love them and their own school cares about them.” The children in the nursery have already received a couple of items from the Tree of Warmth. “April, the clerk in the nurse's office, her aunt likes to crochet and she has been crocheting beautiful hats and scarves for little babies,” Wiltfong said. “Each year our nursery gets to come up and each of those kids get a new hat and scarf that she has made.” Wiltfong hopes the Tree of Warmth

Christmas through new eyes


oreign exchange students in International club experienced an American Christmas festival for the first time. On Nov. 18, they volunteered to assist with elementary and middle school choirs for the Christmas on the River in Parkville festival. “We helped direct students around and tried to help them get to where they needed to be and not get with a stranger because they bring in 14 bus loads of students,” Jackson said. “We have to make sure that there are no adults that try to take them out of the crowd.” When helping the choir students get

where they needed to go safely, the foreign exchange students learned something themselves. "They learned how to socialize with people that they didn't know because we

"You guys really love Christmas." didn’t know any of the other volunteers and we had to communicate with each other so they used their communication skills," Jackson said.

will promote a positive attitude and more acts of kindness in an effort to let students know that the school cares about them. “We’re a family, we may or may not like each other everyday, but we care about each other,” Wiltfong said. “We care about you, we are going to get you fed, we are going to get you clean socks.”

The Tree of Warmth located in the main office on Dec. 9. Photo by RachelAdamson.

According to Jackson, the students were under-dressed for the weather despite being told to bundle up. “They found out that they loved hot chocolate when it’s cold outside and they couldn’t wait to get in the car and get their feet warm," Jackson said. According to foreign exchange student Zoe Vandooren, she had never seen anything like the Christmas on the River festival in her home country. “You guys really love Christmas,” Vandooren said. “It is a really positive thing, everybody has this Christmas spirit and they join together.”



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