Families gathered early Thursday at Top of the World Elementary to hear second- and third-graders sing during the annual Young America Sings program.
The kids gathered in rows on stage — decked out in red, white and blue — as parents and grandparents waved from the audience, snapping pictures and recording video on iPhones and camcorders. Parents shouted names, trying to find their child among the patriotic sea.
Choral Music Teacher Beth Sand sat in the front with a guitar in her lap, strumming familiar songs that many audience members clapped along to.
Kids swayed back and forth, singing loud and clear, with fun corresponding hand movements, making it hard to believe they were asleep a short time ago.
Brett Morris watched on as his second-grader, Keanu, sang on stage.
"He was so excited this morning," he said. "He's like 'Dad, we got to go to school!"
Patriotic numbers, such as the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" made the list along with some fun songs that showed their historical knowledge, such as "Fifty Nifty United States" and another that named each president in sequential order.
It was hard for parents not to jump in when the kids sang an enthusiastic rendition of "I Can See Clearly Now" and the school's song "Top of the World" by the Carpenters.
As each song got introduced, Sand told interesting facts to the crowd, such as macaroni in the song Yankee Doodle Dandy was actually an Italian word for haute couture at the time. The verse, "He put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni," pokes fun at how Americans tried to emulate Italian dress at the time.
After the program was complete, the kids were celebrated with a standing ovation.
Grandmother Toni Bernard was excited to see her two grandchildren, Lola and Luke, singing along with their classmates.
"I thought it was beautiful," she said. "I could hardly keep myself from jumping on stage with them."
Sand, who has been choral music teacher for 15 years, thinks music is one of many facets of a child's education.
She also has an important message to all her students: Everybody can sing.
"Everybody can learn to sing … and can learn to sing well," she said.
Top of the World has one more performance coming up, with their kindergarten and first-graders. It was originally set for Friday but has to be rescheduled for next week.
El Morro Elementary School will have their Young America Sings programs next week.
For more information, visit LBUSD.org.