TOTM GH choir1

The kids of Champaign's Garden Hills Academy -- with help from choir director Marian Wyatt and Centennial High senior Noni Crawford -- will sing at the Tons O' Fun Band & Friends  Christmas Show on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

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On Saturday night at the Virginia Theatre, 10-year-old Ephrahin Kumpi will make his big-stage debut.

“I’m not afraid,” he said. “I get to be famous.”

Kumpi and 20 other fourth- and fifth-graders from Champaign’s Garden Hills Academy are more excited than nervous about their role in the annual Tons O’ Fun Band & Friends Christmas Show. Proceeds benefit Developmental Services Center’s Tree of Hope campaign (7 p.m. start, tickets on sale at the door).

The Garden Hills Grizzlies will perform six Christmas pieces they’ve been practicing each day at school.

“A lot of these kids have never even been to the Virginia Theatre before, much less sung on stage,” said Marian Wyatt, a second-grade teacher and unofficial director of the first-of-its-kind Garden Hills Children’s Choir.

For their musical efforts, the youngsters will be treated to specially designed T-shirts and a meal at Manzella’s. They’ll also spend the afternoon handing out thousands of donated candy canes around C-U, just like Wyatt’s Centennial Expressions Choir did every December when she was teaching high-schoolers.

Wyatt has been floored by her rookie choir’s attitude.

“I think they’re going to do their best,” she said. “Whatever their best is, I’ll take it.”