The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

Interact Club Is in Harmony During Annual Caroling Competition

Memorable+choirs+of+the+many+performing+included%2C+Coral+Reef%2C+Lourdes+Academy%2C+Miami+Arts+Charter%2C+American+Senior+High+and+Doral+Academy.+
Matthew Castano
Memorable choirs of the many performing included, Coral Reef, Lourdes Academy, Miami Arts Charter, American Senior High and Doral Academy.

The city of Coral Gables has hosted its annual Merrick Festival Caroling Competition since 1987, a contest where 30 South Florida schools compete for 20,000 dollars in cash prizes. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, Interact and its club members sold food, refreshments and snacks to supporting viewers and singers attending the Caroling Competition. To the tune of holiday caroling, club members raised money, supported their community and expressed Gables pride, the very principles of the club.

“I’ve been attending Caroling for 23 years and each year is as surprising as the last. The singing is phenomenal, and it is a great time to meet all of my members and work with them one-on-one. If members work all five days and donate to our cause, they can earn almost 100 hours,” Interact sponsor Ms. DePaola said.

Interact members arrived on 550 Biltmore Way at 6 p.m. to begin preparations for the caroling event’s seating and food accommodations. Students eager to earn hours unpacked food, set up tables, chairs and helped the event workers with audio equipment. By 6:30 p.m. the area began to fill with the foot-traffic of parents and interested viewers. As the sun slowly dropped beneath the skyline, the first soothing sounds of young festive voices attracted nearby pedestrians.

The musical youth of the Gables gathered in their respective groups across the vast sidewalks and roads of Biltmore Way, which were temporarily closed during competition hours. Surrounding buildings were decorated with the hues of the holiday season to support the event. The main entrance to the 550 building, that was covered in reds, greens, wreaths and Santa hats, saw carolers line as they sang harmonic Christmas carols.

By 7 p.m., Interact fully prepared five tables full of snacks, drinks, homemade treats and decorations. Interact’s concession tables contained diverse types of cookies, chips, donuts and candy canes; partially funded by the club, but also donated by Interact members in search of more community service hours. Despite the innumerable quantity of options to choose from, the club’s bestselling item was their hot chocolate.

Interact members sell chocolate chip, M&M and oatmeal raisin cookies while they drink hot chocolate. (Matthew Castano )

“This year I helped set up and sold cookies, water, soda and chips with my friends for three of the five Caroling nights. I also contributed to the event by donating napkins and plastic gloves to Interact before the event had started. I usually come to the caroling competition for my cousin who sings in one of the choirs, but the past two years, I have been working with Interact to support him while also getting hours,” sophomore Trinity Perez said.

In addition to food, Interact’s secretary of events, Caitlin Savage, sold homemade crocheted items in hopes of donating her profits to the Kristi House, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse. Savage created small tree ornaments and Christmas themed decorations such as snowmen and reindeer to sell.

Juniors Caitlin Savage and Sara Lecón sell a Christmas themed crocheted reindeer. (Matthew Castano)

“I originally learned to crochet during the COVID lockdown and since then I constantly crochet in my free time. For the past three years I have been selling my decorations and small ornaments at the caroling competition and plan to continue. I always get lots of customers interested in home-made items that also want to support non-profits,” junior Caitlin Savage said.

As the final Christmas choirs finalized their singing, spectators retired for the night. Interact members stayed until 10 p.m. at night to reorganize all of their supplies, fold chairs and clean up litter in the area. After a night of work, students earned upwards of 15 hours a night, for their time spent after-hours and donations to the pool of items being sold. The festivities then continued for the next four days.

After five nights of heartfelt singing, the competition’s judges concluded their decision on Dec. 5. The placements and awards for the schools and their caroling choirs were awarded. Coral Reef Senior High and New World School of the Arts won the grand prize in the high school division.

Once the competition came to a close, Ms. DePaola and her board members accounted for expenses, and tallied over 1,000 dollars in profit. The entirety of this money supported the Dreamers Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps smaller non-profits afford their cause. Every year, the Dreamers Foundation chooses a variety of non-profits to support, gives them money to help improve their respective cause and recognizes them, giving them a larger platform.

The Caroling Competition concluded hoping to recognize vigorous efforts within the youth of Coral Gables as put on display for the public. While some students spread the joy of musical ambiance, others worked hard to support wellness organizations in their community. Interact demonstrated their annual outreach to the people and regions around Gables in hopes of spreading its name, goals and achievements.

“Interact focuses on its community and strives to improve it. Through community service students at Gables can participate within their community and be a part of the many people trying to improve it. Interact helps students to earn hours for their work while they are also having fun,” senior Emma Desmet said.

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About the Contributors
Luke Savage, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Luke Savage is a freshman at Coral Gables Senior High, working as a staff writer for Cavsconnect. He is an avid reader and runner who hopes to improve his writing and the skills involved with the triad throughout his Gables career. Additionally, he takes educational matters with utmost importance and intently plans on having an almost perfect grade point average by the end of the year. Regardless of the sacrifice of time or labor, Luke will present his best work in every class. The genesis for his interest in CavsConnect began during his search for the right publication. Writing professionally in conjunction with designing aesthetic websites interested him. He was more enticed after learning that the publication hosted an extremely competitive environment. Now with the goal of one day becoming Editor-in-Chief, he has incentive to write of a high quality, in a punctual manner and bribe the upperclassmen. Individually, Luke is often described as independent, hard-working and pragmatic. But most see him as impertinent. With four years ahead of him, Gables has no idea who he might become.  
Matthew Castano, CavsTV Staff
Meet Matthew Castano, a talented junior in high school who serves on the boards of FEA, FBLA, and AOF. With a passion for videography and photography, Matthew uses his creativity to capture vivid moments and bring ideas to life. He is dedicated to excellence in all his endeavors and strives to make an impact on those around him. Don't be surprised if you see Matthew behind the camera or leading a club meeting - he is a natural leader with a heart for service.
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