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Jingle all the way in Bellevue

Seventh graders from Holy Family Parish School perform the handbells at Crossroads on Tuesday, Dec. 18. From left: Devin McGlynn, Sophie Dutton, Aidan Cleary and Bryson Harshman.  - Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter
Seventh graders from Holy Family Parish School perform the handbells at Crossroads on Tuesday, Dec. 18. From left: Devin McGlynn, Sophie Dutton, Aidan Cleary and Bryson Harshman.
— image credit: Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter

Those visiting Crossroads on last week were met with holiday cheer as students from Holy Family Parish School in Kirkland performed handbells at the mall’s Market Stage.

Directed by handbells teacher Pam Gunderson, students from Holy Family have been performing at the Crossroads’ Market Stage during the holidays for 12 years.

The handbells have become the focus of the music program for seventh and eighth graders at Holy Family since being introduced by Gunderson 15 years ago.

Gunderson said she first heard of the handbells when she learned about a school on the East Coast with a similar curriculum. She saw the instruments as a great option for keeping the older students engaged, as well as a great way to help them progress as musicians.

“Because our school is K through eighth grade, the handbells incorporate everything they have learned since kindergarten,” Gunderson said.

She said the the bells were donated to the school when she decided to start the program. Though students take music each year at Holy Family, they don’t start learning the handbells until seventh grade.

Tuesday’s performance marked the first for the new class of seventh graders, who have been practicing since school started in September.

In addition to playing at Crossroads, the students play the handbells at several locations throughout the community, including nursing homes. They also play at school concerts and eighth grade graduation in June.

Gunderson says her favorite part of the annual Crossroads performance is watching the students realize they can really play the bells - and to see them overcome their fear of playing in front of an audience.

“I think [the audience] likes to watch [the hand bell performance] because the kids are very focused,” Gunderson said.

She said she is always impressed by how well the students do. And while Gunderson said it is too difficult to choose her favorite song, she said her favorite part about the Crossroads performance is sharing with the community.

 

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