Tonawanda News — •••
Do you like Christmas programs? They are one of my favorites and when announcements come to the News about schools that are presenting Christmas concerts or plays, they get noted on my calendar. This year, only a few came in, but the one at Cardinal O’Hara High School seemed outstanding: a spaghetti dinner, followed by the annual Franciscan Greccio and then a Christmas concert by the school’s chorus and bands and then more refreshments in the student dining hall. Who could resist?
What an evening it was. Members of the freshman class traditionally put on the Greccio presentation in the school’s courtyard, a reenactment of the first Nativity scene on Christmas night in 1223 created by St. Francis in Greccio, Italy. O’Hara’s costumed performers, music and narration brought the scene alive.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the performances of the school’s jazz ensemble, concert band and wind ensemble, directed by Scott Bean, instrumental director. The choral selections by the chorus and song corps, led by Scott Paeplow, choral director, were amazing.
O’Hara is not a large school and to see so many students taking part is a tribute to the school’s leadership and its fine arts program. At the end of the evening, Mary Holzerland, principal and a graduate of O’Hara, noted that 60 percent of the school’s enrollment participate in the fine arts program.
“This is an amazing number for any high school,” she commented.
Recently, an email talked about a new historical commentary book, “America…A Nation That’s Lost Its Way.” The email was coincidental as just last weekend my son made a pre-Christmas visit from Baltimore and the discussion turned to the affairs of the country.
“You know,” he said, “from earliest times, nations have risen to great heights and then disintegrated. It seems to me that the United States has peaked and is now on its way down. People don’t want to sacrifice, more and more are content to let the government run their lives. I read in the Washington (D.C.) paper that in 1950 only two percent of the population were on permanent disability. Now it’s nearly nine percent. I wonder what the country will be like when my kids have families.”