NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> In preparation for Christmas, students at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Newtown brought the Nativity story to life on Dec. 20.

In beautiful pageantry, punctuated by the carols of the season, more than 80 eighth graders staged the Living Nativity inside the school’s all purpose room before a room packed with parents, teachers and students.

This is the 18th year the school’s eighth graders, along with a handful of first graders, have presented the inspiring story of the Christmas nativity and the virgin birth.

The school stages the Living Nativity every year to reinforce the true meaning of Christmas through narration, scripture readings and carols.

Everyone in the eighth grade participates with either a speaking role or as part of the choir.

“It’s all about sharing and celebrating the true gift of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ,” said faculty members Genevieve Thiers, Joanie Koch and Amanda Bilello who directed the pageant.

This year’s performance featured Joseph and Mary, portrayed by Abigail Gillespie and Dean Bergkoetter; the baby Jesus, by Lily Eichner; the shepherds, Harry Thompson, Erica Johnson, Jackson Heine and Daniel Hibbs; and the Three Kings, played by Talon Arbizu, Jack Beachman and Alexa Windish.

The cast also included the Angel Gabriel, the innkeepers, a flock of sheep portrayed by first graders and a choir of angels.

The performance concluded with a tableau, with all the participants gathered around the manger scene.

“They did great. My heart is just full,” said Principal Robert Sikora after watching the kids bring the Nativity to life.

“This sets the tone for Christmas not just at our school, but throughout the parish,” added Sikora. “We’re reminded by the kids to put others first. It’s not about us. It’s about the love Jesus has shown us and to pass that love on to others.”

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