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6-12-18 — Sunnyside Chorus Brings Boxes of Books, Entertainment to Harmony

June 12, 2018 ~ More than a decade ago, music teacher Loretta Knox had the idea to use her Sunnyside Elementary Special Chorus tour as a way to give back to the community. This was the final year for the tradition because Knox is retiring at the end of the school year. The May 1 tour included stops at six area businesses including the Education Center, Food Production Center, Cedar Lake Village, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shops, and Harmony Early Childhood Center.  
 
“We do mostly all Olathe tour stops and I wanted our Special Chorus to sing for preschoolers and the elderly in our community,” Knox said. “I decided it would be a great community service for our students to experience the joy of giving to the preschoolers.” 
 
That bud of a plan developed into giving picture books to each preschooler at Harmony starting in 2007. The chorus, numbering more than 100 students, arrived at Harmony with boxes of brand new books for the youngsters.  
 
“My students love to do this,” Knox said. Their goal this year was 175 books, but the singers ended up donating 253 books to the children. Boxes in Knox’s music room filled up rapidly as chorus members bought books at discount stores and brought them to school. Each donated book has a “Happy Reading from Sunnyside Special Chorus” sticker.  
 
“My students were really excited to give and the highlight of their tour day to sing for the preschoolers and then go back to their classrooms and read to the students in small groups,” Knox said. “It’s become a fun tradition and one that is meaningful for my Special Chorus students.” 
 
Back in the classrooms, fourth- and fifth-grade singers sat on the floor or at preschooler-sized tables to read the books aloud to their young audiences.  
 
“My singers were very excited about this experience and had many stories to tell me about reading to their preschooler and felt they had made an impact on the preschoolers,” Knox said.