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Watch: Flowery Branch high schoolers stand in the cold to play music for senior residents
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From left, Liam Goodin, Nick Patten, Ella Patten, Kolton Gant, Aja Sexton, Kamryn Sexton, Brant Bowen and Ethan Edwards perform outside Ashton Senior Living on Dec. 17, 2020. Photo courtesy Angel Sexton

Peering from cracked windows and doors, the residents of two Hall County senior living facilities listened as music echoed through their halls on Thursday, Dec. 17.

A small group of students from Flowery Branch High School’s marching band stood outside in the cool December air, spending around 30 minutes at each building, to play a few tunes and brighten spirits.

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Kolton Gant, a junior at Flowery Branch High, said he and his peers volunteered to perform at Ashton Senior Living and Bell Minor Home. The event wasn’t organized or requested by the school, the volunteering students wanted to do it, Gant said.

“It’s been a hard year for everyone, especially them,” Gant said. “No one is coming to see them, and some probably don’t understand why.”

Angel Sexton, mother of two band students, said she helped coordinate the performance because she felt like the marching band’s music needed to be shared with everyone, not just those who can make it to football games.

“These are extraordinary kids,” Sexton said, adding that while many students were staying warm at home, this group was thinking of the seniors.

Ella Patten plays "Amazing Grace" for senior residents

Ella Patten plays "Amazing Grace" for residents of Ashton Senior Living on Dec. 17, 2020.

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Flowery Branch High junior Ella Patten decided to perform a flute solo of “Amazing Grace” at Ashton Senior Living. Standing in front of the building in Gainesville, Patten said she felt a spark of nerves. But, she said, once she began playing, the anxiety melted away. 

“I thought it would be something beautiful for them to hear,” Patten said. “Something they’ve heard probably many times in their life. Something to warm their hearts.”

Curtis McGill, owner of Ashton Senior Living, said he can’t find the words to describe what the live music meant to his residents. He said most of those living at the facility haven’t seen their loved ones since the virus forced lockdowns of senior living facilities, beginning 10 months ago.

“They did a beautiful job,” McGill said. “People still feel like somebody cares about them.”

Gant said playing for people “felt like Christmas for the first time.”

“Christmas is special, at least to me,” he said. “We wanted for them to feel something.”