Student violinists spread holiday cheer

Published 7:29 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The sounds of music and the sweet aroma of pies permeated the air at The Village Apartments on Tuesday morning as students from Washington Montessori Public Charter School continued an 18-year-old tradition.

Going from door to door under the guidance of WMPCS Music Director Michele Rhem, a group of nearly 20 student violinists serenaded the residents of the complex with holiday tunes while their classmates delivered pies to each home.

As to the origins of the musical pie tradition, Rhem said it harkens back to a time when the charter school was situated next door to the complex, before the construction of the new campus. As friendships developed, the school began bringing festive music to the complex, along with tasty pies to supplement Thanksgiving meals.

“We were a very small school, and we became fast friends,” Rhem said. “When we were leaving, there were tears because our kids had become friends with them. They used to sit outside and watch the kids play outside.”

SPECIAL DELIVERY One of the most important jobs of the day was that of pie deliverer, a role Taylor Westbrook took on with a smile. (Matt Debnam/Washington Daily News)

Despite the school being relocated, the tradition ensued. For some residents, the annual visit is something to be looked forward to. As the first generation of Montessori kids have grown, faces have become familiar. During this year’s caroling, a pair of older boys reconnected with a man they remembered visiting with as children.

“It’s wonderful to see kids like this take their time and their teachers to entertain us,” The Village resident Judy Fulford said. “I appreciate it so much. I enjoy this, I love the kids. I’ve seen them play several times, and I cannot believe how good they are compared to other things I’ve watched.”

While some pies were donated, and others store bought, others still were baked by WMPCS students who made sugar-free and gluten-free options for those who might have special dietary needs.

While the annual visit is uplifting for the residents, Rhem says she sees benefits for her students as well. Interacting across generations, meeting face-to-face with elders — these are things that have inherent worth to all people, both young and old.

“Children don’t always get enough interaction with that segment of society,” Rhem said.  “I think once they can talk and communicate, if they can have a conversation, it gives them a connection. Everybody has a story.”