STUDENT NEWS: WASHS autism support students share holiday handbell cheer

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The WASHS handbell choir brings musical joy to the holiday season. PROVIDED PHOTO

Editor’s note: Students from Waynesboro Area Senior High School’s journalism class contribute occasional articles to Local.News.

By Nora Dickey, WASHS student journalist

Over the course of the past few months, Mr. Andrew Vensel has been working on something remarkable.

Mr. Vensel was introduced to the WASHS community this year as the new choir director. A native of Boiling Springs, he came here from his previous job as a choir director in Middletown. 

Mr. Vensel has always expressed a passion for teaching music to students of varying abilities – and that is exactly what he’s doing here at WASHS. Every day during 4th period, Mr. Vensel pairs together with Mrs. Richardson’s autistic support class, and they all play music together. Mr. Vensel said they are a “very musical crew”.

Students Beth Lison, TJ Hays, Jack Hepler, Sam Barret, Paxton Snyder, and Paul Carson have taken up handbells and work together to create many different types of songs.

Mr. Vensel has put together a video of the students playing “Jingle Bells” to wish everyone happy holidays and to show that music is a universal language that everyone can share. “‘Jingle Bells’ is a holiday favorite,” said Vensel. “We thought that this festive piece would bring a smile to the faces of our families, the adults that help us to learn, peers, and members of our community.”

When performing this piece, students read colored musical notation or follow the cues from our adult helpers, he added.  You can find this video here.