Saturday, December 25, 2010

Give, Share, Bless With Joy Today and Always

My own experiences with sharing with the beautiful Yup'ik, Haida, and Tlingit children of Alaska has taught me so much about joy and blessings! I cannot help but want to post photos over and over of these lovely faces and the beauty of their little hearts.

I was reminded of those times when I received a really lovely and fun video of a Yup'ik village,Quinhagak, near the Bering Sea... and their children in the creation of a holiday message for their family, their village, and for the world...starring a team of fifth-graders and their word play with cards to Handel's "Messiah."

The fifth-graders of Quinhagak (and some adults) silently perform a portion of the holiday classic syllable-by-syllable by flashing signs in time with the music. The video is a whirlwind tour of the village, with kids popping out of cabinets to "perform" hallelujahs, skittering across the gymnasium floor and whipping down slides.

"We showed it to the community at our Christmas program for the school," said teacher Jim Barthelman, who shot and edited the clip over the weekend. "There was people laughing so hard you couldn't hear the music."

Originally, Barthelman planned for his students to perform the song live in front of a crowd, using the homemade signs, in the style of various YouTube hits.

The kids were too embarrassed, said Cheryl Karels, 11, one of the stars of the clip. "We just made a movie to not stand up in front of lots of people."

The video snowballed Tuesday into a social media sensation among Alaskans, with copies peppering Facebook accounts like measles. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich tweeted about it. Fans from Washington, D.C., to Thailand praised it on YouTube.

Barthelman and his students spent a total of 10 hours over Saturday and Sunday shooting roughly 100 scenes for the clip, as they roamed the village in the school's navy blue Chevy Suburban. The crew broke for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, said Barthelman, who is in his third year teaching at Quinhagak.

"I'd go, 'One, two, three, hallelujah!' and if (the kids) weren't all lined up and flipping the cards at the right time, I'd say, 'One, two, three' and we'd just do that over and over until we got a good take," Barthelman said. "Then we'd all jump back in the truck and warm up and go to the next spot."

Cheryl said Barthelman prompted the kids to flash their signs by singing to them and added the music later.

Quinhagak resident Catherine Pleasant first saw the video Monday at the school. It's a hit in the village, she said, though watching it again meant waiting half an hour for her remote Internet connection to load the clip.

By Tuesday night, the video was approaching 2,800 views on 219, 925...!

A modest number by Web sensation standards, maybe. But that's four times more clicks than Quinhagak, population 680, has people. As fans posted their thank-yous online, Barthelman wrote a note of his own.

"The kids are totally digging all the views and comments." he said.

"They are very proud and won't stop watching it themselves!

Merry Christmas!"


Doesn't this truly feeling like the absolute "JOY" of Christmas!
Blessings to all of you and a very Merry Christmas to everyone!!

My photo collage:
My own experiences with school children in Douglas, Alaska making kuspuks in their second grade classroom. I have done this for 3 years so far and it is an amazing experience of giving and sharing. I feel so blessed by my contact with all of the special children of Alaska.