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Coronavirus: St. Thomas, Ont., secondary school’s virtual Christmas concert spreads holiday joy

A screenshot of the virtual concert 'A Very Parkside Christmas.'. A Very Parkside Christmas

A group of students at a St. Thomas, Ont., secondary school has found a way to safely spread holiday cheer to the local community amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The music program at Parkside Collegiate Institute held its annual Christmas concert, ‘A Very Parkside Christmas,’ virtually this year.

The 43-minute concert features around 20 students performing classic and novel Christmas songs in front of green screens in order to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Read more: Kids of Note celebrating holiday season with online concert

“(I) individually film every kid in front of a greenscreen mouthing the words — nobody singing, nobody talking — mouthing the words to every song that we had in our show,” the head of the Performing Arts Department, Angela Southern explained.

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“The (students) went home with whatever device they had on hand … and they recorded all their audio tracks while watching and singing along with themselves on the video.”

Southern says December is a heavy performance season for music students, so it was disappointing to have to cancel events such as movie and music nights due to the pandemic.

So they came up with an idea — to put together a show to send to nearby elementary schools and long-term care facilities.

“One, the kids get a chance to perform because it’s no fun to rehearse and never perform. (Two), our area seniors and some of our little ones get to have a fun sing-along show that they can watch and enjoy,” Southern said.

Once the filming was complete, Southern edited the audio tracks together and her husband Sam edited the video “like a great big jigsaw puzzle.”

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Read more: Christmas music and COVID-19: How to adapt when group singing isn’t safe

She gives props to all her students for recording an entire show virtually.

“These kids are amazing; (it’s) hard to hype yourself up when you’re on your own.”

Southern adds the program has received lots of warm feedback from area schools and long-term care homes.

“It was pretty fulfilling for us … Your heart grows by about 10 sizes in one day.”

The full concert can be viewed online.

–With files from 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady

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