MOUND — The street was covered with scores of multicolored chalk-drawn hearts.

Neighbors also converged on this city of Mound roadway with chairs, all ready for a concert by 10-year-old Shayna Glassman.

It was over in about two minutes, but the impact will resonate with attendees for a very long time.

Shayna, in her first year of playing saxophone, was one of many Westonka School District musicians to perform a “porch concert” Tuesday, April 7.

“I was sort of scared at first, but then I just started playing and it was good,” she said after her two-song performance.

But Shayna, aside from the decorative hearts, had also “hand made a million invitations” for neighbors and friends, advertising her performance. “I worked so hard on them.”

The porch concerts were part of a nationwide effort encouraging students and other musicians to perform a song or concert from their porch, sidewalk or driveway on Tuesday.

Westonka music teacher Gretchen Chilson, who had her own family performance Tuesday, said students are encouraged to participate in porch concerts and other activities for a variety of reasons during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

“Students are looking for ways to stay connected to their school life, beyond academics,” Chilson said. “School is much more than classes — it’s sports, dances, meetings and activities too. So, in addition to distance learning, we’re working to find ways for students to reconnect with their full school experience.”

Charlie Nelson, 18, and brother Kristopher Nelson, 13, played their saxophone and trumpet, respectively, for listeners in their St. Bonifacius neighborhood.

“We just wanted to do what we could to help uplift the community during this pandemic,” said Charlie, getting a nod of agreement from his brother. “And, it’s just fun to play.”

Kami Nelson, the boys’ mother, said band directors should be thanked because the porch performances are a wonderful opportunity to share musical talents and bring joy to neighbors’ lives, adding: “We all need a little pick me up during this time of uncertainty.”

Chilson also created a project requesting each member of the Mound Westonka High School Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Wind Ensemble to record a performance from home and share it with someone who could use a “pick-me-up” during these difficult times. The videos will also be shared with several area senior living facilities.

The 1,200-member Wayzata High School-Club Y.E.S (Youth Extending Service) is continuing its community service efforts despite the pandemic, according to Brenda Badger, program manager for the school’s largest club.

“Students are rising to the opportunity to make a difference for their community in a meaningful, yet safe manner,” Badger said.

Those opportunities include, in part: creating "Story Time Videos" that will be shared with WPS elementary and early-learning schools; creating "Share a Special Skill & Teach a Kid Videos" that will be shared with WPS elementary schools and families; writing letters, making cards and art work for local senior living facilities for distribution to their residents; and sewing masks for North Memorial Health and Maple Grove hospitals.

Y.E.S members have a close connection with local senior living communities. Students who might normally visit those residents for conversation, games, musical performances and other purposes, are now creating cards, notes and artwork for those residents.

Badger receives the students’ work in the mail, checks it over and forwards it to the respective centers.

“Remarkably, there is quite a bit of mail that is coming in,” Badger said. “What the students are doing is finding a way during this time to continue those relationships and maintain partnerships that were in place.”

Students from a number of grades and schools have gotten involved in efforts to donate wipes, hand sanitizers, gloves and other items to front-line workers.

In the Minnetonka School District, Jan Battles, the Theatre's costume designer, recently recruited volunteers to help sew masks from costume scraps to donate to a local senior living facility, with a goal of providing masks for all 430 residents and staff members.


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