McNulty students spread friendship message

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

Clothed in red and pink clothing of all shades Wednesday morning stood the first and second graders at the Ralph J. McNulty Academy of International Studies and Literacy Magnet School in Amsterdam.

It was their annual Friendship Concert and as their parents and family members sat in the crowd, they beamed at their little ones singing songs about friendship.

Mid-way, the first-graders held up letters of the word "friendship" and spoke words for each letter that they felt portrayed a good friend.

Second-graders then stood to read a poem about being a friend.

Karen Scherer, the music director at McNulty, said that when she picked the songs she was thinking about the qualities of good friends.

"When they (the students) practiced together, they put their arms around each other and really just enjoyed singing with each other," she said. "Instead of more of the Valentine's Day theme where you're talking about love and things that are not really age-appropriate, I think the friendship concert really brings them together as classes and grades."

McNulty Principal Todd Giagni said the Friendship Concert has historically been done year after year at the school to promote friendship around Valentine's Day.

But it also gave parents and family members a chance to get into the school.

Betty Hitchcock, who drove from Queensbury to watch her great-grandson perform, said she thought the students were professionals, acting very well-behaved.

"Every child just enjoyed it immensely, as we did," she said.

She said the concert helps kids become more aware of the friends they have around them.

Seven-year-old Kimberly McCarthy said she thought the concert was "really cool" and liked singing all of the songs.

"It was super duper nice," she said of singing about her friends.

When asked what it means to be a good friend, McCarthy touched her heart and replied, "I think that spreading a lot of kindness in your heart, if you believe in it, maybe you'll get a friend."

She said she thought about her friends during the concert.

"I was thinking about how good friends we can be."

Teaching these types of lessons to the kids are what the teachers try to do everyday, Giagni said.

Recently, they have been talking about the idea of having a yearly theme on respect, with friendship being involved in that, he said.

And they promote the school's beliefs of being respectful, responsible, safe, and prepared through assemblies and various events and recognition awards for the kids throughout the year.

"We try to encompass that everyday."

Sophia Pizarro, an 8-year-old second grader, said the concert was great.

"What I liked most about it was singing with my friends," she said, adding that being a good friend means helping those who are being bullied and helping others with their work.

Joey Lopez, a 7-year-old at McNulty, said his favorite part was talking on the microphone during the second-grader's poem.

But he had another.

"Me singing with my two best friends," he said.

The Rev. Kent McHeard, vice president of the Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education and a parent of a McNulty performer, said the idea of a friendship concert was just wonderful for the kids.

"It's wonderful to hear the songs that they sing and then to hear the last one where they sang 'What the world needs now is love, sweet love.' Isn't that an important message to hear from children?" he said. "Us adults need to hear that, too."