by Heidi L. Everett
St. Joseph Catholic School is spreading Christmas cheer through QR codes around town this year.
Students made and laminated 75 festive posters to hang around St. Joseph. Each poster includes a unique QR code. If residents hover over the QR code with a smart phone camera, it takes them to a link where they can hear students singing a Christmas carol, playing music, reciting poetry or sharing a holiday wish.
“Every year the school celebrates the season with a Christmas program. Unfortunately, we were unable to this year due to COVID-19,” said Joanne Schneider, first grade teacher. “We were able to spread a ‘socially distant’ Christmas message and include distance learners in the community celebration even if they couldn’t physically be there.” They were also able to include preschoolers in the project who were still attending in person.
Students recorded their holiday songs and greetings using the app Seesaw, which they were already using in classes, a Chromebook or an iPad.
Songs include perennial favorites like “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Some were newly recorded solos by students, like Julia Loehlein, 10, playing “Silent Night” on the piano or Leah Bechtold, 10, playing “Carol of the Bells” on the piano. Other songs were from the school’s holiday programs of the past.
Students also recorded messages. Mason Dockendorf, 6, shared, “My Christmas wish is for no one to be alone on Christmas day.”
Schneider created the project by combining a few ideas shared in several virtual professional teacher groups.
“I was so excited about the trees in town. We wanted to keep the strong community feeling going,” she said.
The QR codes are working.
“A few evenings ago, I received a text from some alumnae of the school,” Schneider said. Livi, Anna and Emma Kremer texted her a photo as they walked around town and listened to excerpts from past Christmas programs. They wrote, “We had fun going for a walk down memory lane tonight.”