The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

Santa Breakfast builds community through holiday spirit

December 10, 2017

Festooned with paper snowflakes, the HUB was filled with Christmas hats and nonstop music performances for the 16th annual Santa Breakfast event on Saturday, Dec. 9.

The concert orchestra set off the festivities activities with their performance, later switching out with the chamber orchestra, as attendees filed in to get their pancake breakfasts.

Outside vendors, school clubs, Associated Student Body classes and face painting booths arranged tables around the perimeter of the area to sell items and services to guests. Santa Claus overlooked the activities, allowing anyone to take photos with him.

Though sized down for this performance, Jazz Ensemble 1 closed out the first hour of the event with power. Junior Ben Leonard finished off their repertoire with a grand finale featuring his solo on tenor sax, but—except he fell short on one of his notes and let out an interjection before covering his mistake.

[The Santa Breakfast is about] bringing community together and that festive holiday time for the younger students to see the older students performing and have them want to be that and just have everyone [be] together.”

— Charlotte Reece

The Martha Lake Elementary choir added cheer to their pieces with an assortment of Christmas carols paired with rhythmic clapping and then featured four soloists in their last song, “The Reindeer Rock.”

Jennifer Schillen quickly returned to the stage after leading concert and chamber orchestra to lead the BTMS orchestras. They modified the length of their performance to shift the schedule back on track to accommodate ensuing music groups.

Choir director Charlotte Reece, who teaches the choirs at College Place Middle School, Madrona K-8 and Edmonds-Woodway High School (EWHS), brought on the EWHS Mello-Aires. Out of the plethora of her choirs, Mello-Aires is a regular at the Santa Breakfast, performing for what seems to be their tenth year running. They were first invited after singing Christmas carols at an event around the time Reece began directing them.

“Mello-Aires, which is the jazz choir at Edmonds-Woodway, has a binder full of holiday music and so we usually go around and do a lot of different caroling performances,” Reece said.

The yearly invitations back to the Santa Breakfast has constructed a new tradition for Mello-Aires—taking a group photo with Santa after coming off-stage. Mello-Aires exhibited the close friendship of their choir, making sure the group was complete even with absent members.

“We’re missing a few kids. We had a couple of kids who were gone and I had other students who made little faces for them so that they could be in the [Santa] picture,” Reece said.

Even with the obstacle of having a few holes in the choir, Mello-Aires took their professionalism up another step by performing without Reece’s direction. She described Mello-Aires as being advanced enough to just need her to “count them off and let them sing and get out of their way.” While Reece admits not every performance will sound the same, she trusts their expertise and enjoyment for the performing art will prevail.

“Every venue that you’re in, it sounds different. And so making sure that you’re heard, especially as singers, is challenging so I don’t know how well the sound system worked for us today. But it was really fun to sing our holiday stuff,” she said.

Reece appreciated the larger amount of guests, which she attributed to having more vendors at the Santa Breakfast than in years past.

“It’s really exciting to perform for [a larger audience] and exciting for the music department as far as their fundraising. And it’s bringing community together throughout the district, not just the area,” Reece said.

Reece is glad to see families and community members support schools and their music programs.

“We want to raise money, obviously, to support the music department because the stuff that we do takes a lot of money,” she said.

But the fundraiser aspect of the Santa Breakfast isn’t the only priority to Reece.

“Also that bringing community together and that festive holiday time for the younger students to see the older students performing and have them want to be that and just have everyone [be] together,” Reece said. “I think that’s as important as how much money you end up making.”

Aside from the fundraising aspect of the Santa Breakfast, Reece feels it’s important for the music students to interpret this event as a means of being trained in event production, which is another important aspect of being a performer.

If Mello-Aires could have anything for Christmas, Reece wishes they could have a higher budget to pay for buses, registration fees and new microphones because they have lots of conferences and festivals in sight for the rest of the school  year.

Following Mello-Aires, all MTHS choirs took on the stage with the Lynnwood Elementary Glee Choir, ending the singing portion of the performances.

The final hour of the Santa Breakfast was spent with band performances, including the MTHS symphonic band and the Lynnwood Community Band Sax Quartet. Chamber winds concluded the music and the event with sneak peeks of the music for their upcoming Nutcracker concert on Thursday, which will take place in the MTHS theater at 7 p.m.

As cleanup commenced, Santa Claus revealed himself as Norm Ives. He assumed the role because his favorite part about working with kids is “talking to them and enjoy[ing] interacting with them.” Having six kids himself, if he became Santa again, he would want his Christmas gift to be for all kids to be “happy kids.”

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