CARROLLWOOD – The kids at the private, Catholic, Morning Star School in Tampa are having a lot of fun celebrating Christmas.
Last week they performed their annual “Christmas Wishes” play, where every one of the nearly 80 students participated. The show featured all of the young children singing and dancing while mostly the older kids had speaking roles.
“We do it every year and it isn’t easy to memorize all the lines,” said eighth-grader Maddie Tomas, who plays softball and plans to attend Tampa Prep next year. “We look at the show as being a gift to our parents for all they have done for us. We made sure to remember all of the lines because we wanted to make them happy.”
The show truly was a gift. It was free for everyone and the kids had as much fun as the parents.
“We got to sing and we got to dance,” said Paulina Ruiz. “We only had a little more than two weeks and it took a lot of work, but it was fun and our parents really liked it.”
“It’s all about joy and happiness at this time of the year,” Maddie added. “We loved doing it.”
Media Specialist Leslie Maggio put the show together, but once the play started, all she could do was watch.
“We had a lot of everything,” she said. “The theme was having cherished memories coming from a trunk we had. The idea was that, what’s inside is what is the most important.”
But while the students on stage may have been laughing, in the audience, there were different reactions.
“I saw a lot of parents out there and they were pretty emotional,” Maddie said. “We tried to stay calm when we were putting on the show, but the parents were crying a little bit.”
One Morning Star parent, Josie Vernon, came up with costume ideas and brought them from concepts to reality.
“We asked for a lot of things and she couldn’t be stumped,” Maggio said. “Everything we needed, she came through.”
Maddie said that while parents may have gotten a little choked up, when the night was over, so did a lot of the performers.
“We cried. It was special,” Maddie said. “We gave something back to our parents. That was like giving a Christmas gift.’’
Many of the children at Morning Star deal with disabilities but move on to regular high schools.