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HomeNewsLocal news@School: Heavenly Hosts Descend on Schoolyard at Sts. Peter and Paul

@School: Heavenly Hosts Descend on Schoolyard at Sts. Peter and Paul

Seventh-grader Chloé Rudder models an angel costume. (Photo by Kimsoy Munroe-Rudder)The Christmas spirit is lighting the halls of Sts. Peter and Paul School, where students from kindergarten to 12th grade are preparing for the annual holiday play.

This year they will present “Gloria, the Christmas Angel,” based on the popular children’s book by Scott A. Asalone and Mary Jo Scandin.

The production is an all-school effort, involving students, teachers and administrative staff. It’s been a tradition at the school for decades.

“It has always been the children’s Christmas gift to their parents, primarily,” said teacher Marguerite Rene, but the public is also invited to share the joy. The play starts at 6 p.m. Thursday in the school yard, followed by the Christmas Bistro. There will be an encore performance at 9 a.m. Friday. There is no admission for the play.

Rene has been involved with the event in one way or another since she joined the staff in 1999. In recent years, she’s taken on the job of coordinator, but she made it clear that many others play vital roles, including the Rev. Bruce Anderson, the vice principal.

In fact, she said, “Father Anderson brought the idea” for this year’s play.

“Every year, there’s a different program,” he explained, but the play always revolves around the birth of Jesus. In this case, all the angels are hanging around the Pearly Gates, hoping to get the chance to announce the coming of God, so they can’t be bothered with attending the birth of a baby into a poor family in Bethlehem. That duty falls to klutzy little Gloria, a misfit who normally can’t seem to do anything right.

Much of the action takes place in heaven, which presents a bit of a challenge for Kimsoy Munroe-Rudder, the art teacher who is in charge of staging, costumes and props.

“It’s going to be a very fluffy, starry stage,” she said, with big stars, clouds and reflective light. The shed that is a permanent fixture in the school yard will be transformed into a stable, and the angels will be decked out in blue, white and yellow. Some of the costumes are store-bought but many are hand-made.

Seventh and eighth grade students rehearse their song for 'Gloria, the Christmas Angel.' (Photo by Kimsoy Munroe-Rudder)“Luckily, some of these angels don’t have their wings yet,” Munroe-Rudder said, so that makes their costumes a little simpler. But it’s still a big job and her art students are helping. “I told them, ‘You guys have to help me with the props.’ ”

Don’t look for the traditional nine hierarchies of seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, archangels, principalities and angels.

In this play, there are basically three groups, according to Tishma Lans, the senior class teacher who is helping direct the production: joyful angels portrayed by the youngest students, from kindergarten to 6th grade; protecting angels, as acted by junior high students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades; and fussy angels, as interpreted by 10th, 11th and 12th graders.

“All the school is involved,” Rene said. “I coordinate what’s happening, but the classroom teachers are really the ones working with the students.” Rehearsals have been taking place during study hall.

Lillanna Francis, a top honors senior who has attended Sts. Peter and Paul since kindergarten, is the narrator. Ryan McBride plays Gabriel, and Nisha Punwani has the title role.

While the message is profound, the presentation is light. And there will be plenty of music. Various classes will sing Christmas favorites. Among them, of course, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Reservations are not required, but it might be wise to arrive early, especially for the Thursday night program. Anderson said last year, “the night performance was packed.” 

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