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Children Sing Carols for Ronald Reagan

The children in Sandy Toring’s kindergarten class weren’t old enough to remember when the man standing before them Friday ran the country. Their teacher and parents had told them about Ronald Reagan, but to the kids he was just a nice guy in a dark blue suit.

So they sang for him, running through several Christmas tunes. He even joined them for a few, then posed for photos with the kids in front of his office Christmas tree.

About 15 children from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Simi Valley ventured to Reagan’s Century City office Friday to serenade the former president, acting on an invitation from Reagan’s staff. Toring said her pupils performed beautifully, even if they didn’t quite understand for whom they were performing.

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“They were just singing for someone who had been the president of the United States,” she said.

The invitation came after a field trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and a breakdown in transportation. On Monday, the students visited the library, near Simi Valley, but the bus they expected to take them back to school broke down, temporarily stranding them.

To pass the time, the library’s docents led the children in singing carols, Toring said. A member of Reagan’s staff overheard the impromptu chorus and arranged the visit.

So after class Friday, children fidgeting in their holiday best piled into parents’ cars and vans for the trip. They were ushered into Reagan’s office, decorated with photos and a bust of the former president, parents said. When Reagan arrived, they were delighted with his warmth and attention to their children, they said.

“He was just wonderful with the kids,” said Kathy Brown, who accompanied her 5-year-old son, Kevin. “He came in and talked to them. . . . He was just very gracious.”

Kevin indicated that he enjoyed being a part of the chorus. “Did that make you feel important?” she asked him, back at the school.

He nodded, hugging her leg. “I felt old,” he said.

Eileen Mendelson said the children, including her 5-year-old son, Joshua, made it through the afternoon without becoming too nervous. “There weren’t a lot of people there,” she said. “They didn’t even know he was president.”

Toring said that before the brief concert, she talked to the children about Reagan, stressing things about him that they could appreciate.

She mentioned, for instance, that he was a grandfather. She also pointed out that the library they had just visited was dedicated to him. That, at least, seemed to sink in.

“Sometimes, they called him President Ronald Reagan Library,” she said.


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