WEISER, Idaho — Coronavirus precautions made it impossible for Pioneer Elementary School in Weiser to put on this year's holiday program with a bunch of kids on stage and a big crowd in the audience.
But music teacher Tori Thomas didn't let that stop her. She made it possible for her students to perform together even though they couldn't really perform together.
"Especially our children - they have been affected so much from COVID. They've lost a lot of opportunities and the Christmas program being one of them," Pioneer Elementary School Music Teacher Tori Thomas said. "The excitement of being able to put on their program, prepare their program and go on stage and wave at mom and dad and grandpa and grandma."
Many of the elementary students have not even been able to see their grandparents since the pandemic hit Idaho. That did not sit well with Thomas.
"Music is one of their favorite things. How do we keep that going?" she asked.
Thomas decided to keep it going with a virtual Christmas program. The preschoolers and kindergartners took a star turn with their rendition of "I'm a Little Star."
The first graders delivered a free-spirited "Feliz Navidad!"
The second graders magnificently mastered "Marshmallow World", and the third graders crooned "Christmas is a Feeling."
Although the kids appear together in the video, they never got together as a group.
"I just had them stand one at a time in front of the green screen and had them record their little portions and then I just snipped them together," Thomas said.
Thomas put the whole program together herself.
"I had some experience with production in college doing theater and whatnot, and I did a little bit of editing," Thomas said.
It was a big hit.
"The fact that we were able to give them that opportunity, the families to see their kids smiling and from a different viewpoint, still have that show, the curtain's going up, the kids are smiling and they're waving at them," Thomas said. "You get all those cute, little moments. I really think that's something you can't put a price tag on or measure. It's invaluable."
For Innovative Educator Tori Thomas and all of her students, it also turned out to be the perfect way in the year of the pandemic to say Merry Christmas to everyone.
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