The 85 students who make up the Pickerington High School North Choir will be caroling in the community Saturday, Dec. 7, to spread holiday cheer and to garner support for their program's annual activities.

Tag Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The tradition involves North choir students in groups of three to five canvassing neighborhoods in the Pickerington Schools district.

It's also an opportunity for community members to make financial donations, which offset choir program expenses, such as sheet music, competition fees, transportation, uniforms and equipment.

"Some groups have been participating in Tag Day together since their freshman year and have established traditions," said Lori Vance, North's vocal music director. "They dress warm and in warm scarves and gloves, like carolers.

"They look festive and have fun."

Vance said her students sing at residences where the occupants have requested Tag Day caroling, and they also will go door to door.

Typically, she said, the event raises around $5,000 each year.

This year, Vance said, the choir is about one-third its typical size and expectations are tempered.

Despite that, she said, Tag Day has evolved into more than a simple fundraiser.

"It is incredibly heartwarming," Vance said. "Over the years it has transformed from a fundraiser to a real giving back to the community.

"It gives our students an opportunity to showcase their talents and learn how to do something for the pure joy of growing the talent.

"The students learn to communicate, they bond with each other as a team and start to create their own memories and traditions."

"Community members have contacted me about acts of kindness that came from the students while they were out caroling," Vance said.

"They would randomly help someone with groceries, catch a fleeing pet or kid, sing to a bed-ridden elderly (person) through the bedroom window.

"The best part is these events usually come from the student that you wouldn't have guessed it. It really helps students grow into good people.

"Yes, the donation is important because we wouldn't be able to give to the students without it. But is definitely secondary to all of the great things I see in the interaction and joy that comes from these kids."

Vance said she also has enjoyed watching students develop friendships after they're grouped during Tag Day.

"The most special thing is the friendships you develop along the way," said Andrew Pinkins, a North senior. "You're put in groups with people you don't always hang out with.

"You also just make people's days, and we get to go out and sing, which is what we like to do."

Pinkins, who will take part in his third Tag Day, noted last year's event helped him and fellow choir members pay for last year's trip to Walt Disney World.

"It was $1,000 to go, and the day knocked off about $200" of that cost, he said. "(Tag Day) really helps our program, overall."

North senior Maddy Dinovo will perform in her fourth Tag Day. She said she's looking forward to serving the community and honing skills on her last go-around.

"We get to go out and see people and meet new people," Dinovo said. "I feel this is important because I get to meet new people and meet people who may be going through a rough time.

"It just brightens their day and we come together as a group and sharpen our harmonies."

Tag Day also will serve as a prelude to North's Dec. 18 Winter Musical Celebration, which is schedule for 7 p.m. at North, 7800 Refugee Road.

It will include performances by the North choir, as well as the school's orchestra and jazz band.

In all, Vance said, close to 300 students will perform.

"We have five choirs, two orchestras, jazz band an alumni featured soloist and alumni that are joining for a larger work with the choir and orchestra," she said.

The music will include Renaissance, Baroque, jazz, large choral works, traditional Christmas tunes and a Hebrew piece with five movements.

"It should be really cool," Vance said.

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