Marlboro seniors and students share luncheon and concert

MARLBORO – Children and senior citizens from Marlboro enjoyed a luncheon and a musical performance together during a special event that was held just before the students’ winter break.

Pupils from the Marlboro Middle School welcomed seniors to the Marlboro Middle School auditorium on Dec. 14 for a get-together among people of different generations.

Performances were presented by the Marlboro Middle School wind ensemble, chorale group and the Griffin Orchestra, which features students from both middle schools.

Selections included the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” performed by the Griffin Orchestra, a mashup of “The Nutcracker” and “Jingle Bells” performed by the chorale group and “Armed Forces on Parade” performed by the wind ensemble.

Chartwells Food Service donated food for the event and poinsettia centerpieces were donated by the Marlboro Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse.

Marlboro Middle School Principal Patricia Nieliwocki said the middle schools have been holding the event for 10 years.

“I think it is awesome every year they do it,” Nieliwocki said. “I had a gentleman tell me he is moving to another facility and he told them he can’t move because he had to come here today.

“Some of the seniors have been coming for so many years and it is great to see them coming back. Most of the seniors come back and they bring more friends along. The students look forward to it, the teachers look forward to it and most definitely the seniors look forward to it,” she said.

Chelsey Dokus is the Griffin Orchestra instructor and teaches string instruments at both middle schools.

“I think it is nice that we are able to give back to the community that supports us through the school district,” Dokus said. “It is another opportunity for the students to perform the music they worked diligently on for two or three months. It is a nice opportunity for the seniors to get out and share the holiday cheer. We really enjoy it.”

Jennifer Garibaldi is the wind ensemble and jazz band instructor and has taught in the school district for six years.

“It is a different kind of concert and I think it went well,” she said. “I’m proud of the way the students performed and the way they behaved. They are great children who understand the way to behave in a concert setting and they understand this concert is strictly for joy.

“People come to hear them play and enjoy the music and I think a part of the students feeds off it. They really had a wonderful time … enjoying their playing and making music for music’s sake,” Garibaldi said.

Marlboro Middle School eighth-graders Janaki Patel, who plays flute in the wind ensemble, and Tiennee Yu, a violin soloist in the Griffin Orchestra, commented on the event.

“I was excited to perform in front of the senior citizens because I got to socialize with them and it was fun to give them food and help them out,” Janaki said.

“I think the performance went really well and I enjoyed watching my peers perform,” Tiennee said. “Helping out the senior citizens was an honor and it’s a great experience for me and my friends.”

Attendee Bernard Rothenberg said, “It was exceptional. Everything was very nice. What they do here is unique. Most of my years I spent in Brooklyn and we had programs on Veterans Day in the schools, but there was never anything like this … they are doing a magnificent job.”

Attendee Jeff Sohn said, “The teachers have trained these children and I am in awe. I was in the orchestra when I was a student and we couldn’t hold a candle to these children. I am very happy to be here.”

Devendre Kamath said, “It is amazing. Every year, if I don’t come, I feel lost. I get energy from all of these young people. I think about what I was doing at that age. When I see these children, I see they are lucky to be born in the United States and they are very talented. The way I see it is that going forward, they are either going to be great people or give up a great opportunity. The sky is the limit for them.”

PTO member Laura Lavery said, “This is not only a great experience for the senior citizens of Marlboro, it is a great experience for the students because they get to interact, they get to meet people they would not normally meet and have conversations they would not normally have.”

Speaking about the musical groups, Nieliwocki said, “These are the ensembles  children audition for. We have hundreds of children in our music program. It is a real commitment to music and it is a commitment by our Board of Education and superintendent that the music and art programs continue to grow. It is a culmination of the focus of the district.

“The seniors love the part (when the students bring drinks to them) because they get to talk to the children. For many children, it is their only opportunity to speak with somebody’s grandmother or grandfather,” she said.