'Be my valentine' came in all sorts of way
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.
Ryleigh Johnson colored in a blue construction-paper heart at her desk as she thought out loud about why she loves Valentine’s Day.
“Because we get to make cards for people,” said the 5-year-old kindergartner at Chiles Elementary.
Johnson and her classmates had just finished a performance for a crowd of parents in the cafeteria, where the students sang Valentine’s Day-themed songs on a rainy Thursday morning
“We’re all different people living together in love,” sang the children, whose Sunday-best attire featured plenty of reds and pinks. They filled a stage flanked by bulletin boards decorated with red hearts and loving phrases.
Parents held up cellphones, camcorders and iPads to film the young ones swaying to the music.
Lori Pennington-Gray looked on from near the back. Mother of a kindergartner, she was looking forward to candy and cards in her daughter’s classroom.
“It’s a day to express your love for your family and those that matter,” she said.
. . .
Joanna Wise was quietly working at her desk when eight dapper young men filed into the room.
The reporter for the Gainesville Television Network news stood up, confused.
“Who are you guys?”
“We’re Phi Mu Alpha,” said a man in a black button-down shirt and a red tie. “A music fraternity.”
The brothers then launched into an a capella reading of The Temptations’ “My Girl” ordered up by Wise’s boyfriend. She giggled as her cheeks turned pink.
Ismael Sandoval, the sophomore music education major who serves as musical director for the group, led the charge on a busy Valentine’s Day that saw them deliver nearly 15 serenades.
“You really see the power of music,” Sandoval said during a short break. “Some people tear up.”
The fraternity has for years offered their voices as Valentine’s Day gifts for anyone in Gainesville. The group will continue to sing today and tomorrow, with serenades costing $35 for students and $40 for non-students.
Hours after their newsroom serenade, the singers huddled under the overhang on Turlington Plaza on the University of Florida campus. The cold drizzle continued, but it didn’t stop the brothers from singing Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet” for UF freshman Nicole Lopez.
A small crowd holding up cellphone cameras gathered. Her best friend Morgan Magelinski stood off to the side. She knew how crazy Lopez was about “Pitch Perfect,” a recent musical comedy film about an a capella group. Her Valentine’s Day gift was a no-brainer.
Lopez couldn’t stop grinning as the singers finished with their traditional “Serenade to a Girl,” a fraternity original that ended with the brothers kneeling on one knee as one of them presented her with a single rose.
“It was so cute,” she said.
. . .
Between each song at the performance at Chiles Elementary, kindergartners would walk up to a short microphone and explain why they love their families.
“I love my family because they take care of me,” Ryleigh Johnson said.
Others gave different reasons.
“Because they like to play with me.”
“Because they help me ride my bike.”
“Because they are sweet.”
One boy gingerly stepped up to give his reason.
“I love my family because ... because ...”
His eyes shot around as he thought hard.
Then the simple, straightforward answer popped in his head.
“ ... because I just love them.”
Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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