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Paper Mill and Franklin Avenue students prove you're never too old for music

Date: 6/1/2010

June 2, 2010.

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- The teachers at Franklin Avenue and Paper Mill elementary schools believe it's important for their students to participate in community service. Thanks to a mini-grant from the WHIPS fund, fifth graders recently got the opportunity to give back to local seniors by offering unique entertainment.

The WHIPS (Westfield Helps Its Public Schools) grant fund is a program of Westfield's Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS). A grant of $300 recently covered the cost of transportation for 24 fifth graders to the Westfield Care and Rehabilitation Center, where the students sang and danced for more than a half hour for more than 30 residents.

Students from Franklin Avenue Elementary School entertained by singing classic songs such as "This Land is Your Land," "California Here I Come," "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and "God Bless America." They alternated performances with the students from Paper Mill Elementary, who danced to "Cotton Eyed Joe," "The Bunny Hop," "The Chicken Dance," a polka and finished with "Hands Up."

It was an interactive performance titled "Never Too Old for Music and Movement," with residents of the center invited to sing along. Ruth Saunders, 99, even got up to sing along to "God Bless America" with the students.

"I loved every minute of it," she told Reminder Publications. "I've always loved music and always loved to sing. I was so surprised when they called me up to sing with them."

Diane Igel, a teacher from Paper Mill, said she thought this year's performance, the sixth such at Westfield Care and Rehabilitation Center, was "outstanding."

"It was nice having the two schools come together for this," she added.

Local entertainer Dan Kane helped out the singers from Franklin Avenue. "I think the kids did awesome," he said. "This is the first time they've done something like this."

VIPS Coordinator Barbara Trant said she was pleased with the performance as well.

"Our grants help fund things outside the curriculum, things that aren't covered by the normal school budget," she explained. "Without one of these grants, these students would not have been able to come out and do this show. I thought it provided a wonderful interaction for the residents and the students."

A total of four WHIPS mini-grants were awarded this year.

For more information on VIPS, visit