School Spreads Christmas Cheer With Help From Famous Friends

Greenwich Catholic School hosted its yearly Christmas concert last night with special guests The Alternate Routes and emcee “Coach” Chris Rodriguez of 107.1 The Peak.

An annual tradition, the Christmas show features band, strings, and vocal performances by each grade as well as a Kindergarten Nativity play. Rodriguez, a 1997 graduate of GCS, welcomed the audience by reminiscing about his time at GCS by saying, “I’m honored to be back here twenty years later. I made life-long friends at this school and had many victories here on this basketball court.” He continued, “Upon hearing I was going to be at GCS for the evening, my parents both said, ‘Sending you to that school was still the best decision we ever made.’”

Following a spirited rendition of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by GCS 8th graders, Rodriguez introduced Chris Warren and Eric Donnelly, founders of the indie-rock band The Alternate Routes. Connecticut natives, Warren and Donnelly met as students at Fairfield University. The Alternate Routes rose to fame in 2013 following the release of “Nothing More,” a song they composed for the non-profit organization Newtown Kindness whose mission is to celebrate, reward and recognize acts of kindness by children.

The band found their way to GCS via Pete Cosenza, P’16, 18, a senior executive at Columbia Records. Cosenza recalls, “When ‘Nothing More’ was released, my wife, Jenni, played the song for Principal Patrice Kopas, who liked it so much she played it a few times during the GCS morning announcements.” Inspired by the students’ enthusiasm about the song and its positive message, GCS music teacher Tatyana Novikova added “Nothing More” to the rotation of music sung during all school masses.

“After a few conversations with Mrs. Kopas and Mrs. Novikova, we decided to invite The Alternate Routes to perform at the 2016 GCS Christmas Concert,” explained Cosenza.

He went on to say, “Coach Chris has played music from the band on his show. So, Coach heard about them performing at the GCS Christmas show this year, and as a GCS grad himself, he was very excited for them and the school.” In addition to performing their hit with the 7th Graders, The Alternate Routes played guitar during other songs, and closed out the evening with a whole-school sing-a-long to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

“Having Coach and The Alternate Routes at our Christmas show was something really special,” Principal Kopas said. “It’s always a wonderful night, but having the opportunity to perform with the musicians who wrote ‘Nothing More’ is an experience our kids will never forget. A truly beautiful Christmas gift!”