Ferndale music teacher a diamond

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When someone gives generously to the community of their time and talents, the effort should be applauded. When it's done in an extraordinary way for the benefit of children, it must be touted - and loudly.

Last week my family and I attended the Ferndale Elementary School Christmas Concert. Most of us have seen adorably ramshackle school Christmas concerts with sets falling over, tiny tots picking their noses and waving to family members in the audience. What I saw was a show worthy of any stage in the Walla Walla Valley.

Ferndale's music teacher, Melissa Cunnington, directed the children like a master conductor. The students' passion and engagement in the program was clearly a direct result of her incredible talent, leadership skills and ability to choose material that the students love. She had those children in the palm of her hands at all times - even the kindergartners -- and they clearly enjoyed the performance as much as those of us in the audience did.

From the intermediate-age choir's charmingly jazzy performance of "Blitzen's Boogie," to the stunningly coordinated marimba players and the K-2 kazoo band, this gifted teacher not only inspired the children to learn music, (the entire fourth grade played a song on the recorder and did it very well,) she wrapped them in a boatload of fun while doing it.

I read recently that during the school budget battle earlier this year, the Milton-Freewater music program was almost cut. After what I saw, I hope all Ferndale Elementary parents will thank God that Melissa Cunnington survived Milton-Freewater's budget challenges and realize what kind of diamond they've got in her. Any program she does is worth reading and writing about - and attending.

Mary Beth Ehrhardt
Milton-Freewater

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