Detroit — The junior high choir students swayed back and forth Friday on their gymnasium stage as they belted out “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway.
The song was among those rehearsed at University Prep Science and Math Middle School in preparation for Saturday’s 45th annual Noel Night.
“It’s pretty cool because the good thing about participating with all these kids is that they all have good voices, and I can learn from them,” said Tjuane Smith, 13, an eighth-grader.
More than 100 venues, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Science Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Public Library will open their doors to the public for free during the holiday open house along Woodward.
The annual festival, produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc., features a variety of activities including horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday shopping, family craft activities, a number of pop-up spaces and performances by more than 200 area music, theater and dance groups.
Students from University Prep Academy Middle School, University Prep Academy High School, University Prep Science and Math Elementary School and University Prep Science and Math Middle School are among those taking part.
The middle and high school students are set to perform musical and dance numbers at the United Church of Christ on E. Warren Avenue at 7:20 p.m.
Students from University Prep Science and Math elementary and middle school will perform step, dance and chorus numbers at the middle school campus next to the Michigan Science Center at 5:15 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. with a special appearance from the Mosaic Youth Theater.
On Friday, Makaya Williams was rehearsing her part in the steppers routine.
“I like to see everyone happy and enjoying themselves,” said Makaya, 14, an eighth-grade student. “This will bring people together from all over.”
There also were rehearsals for the school’s dance group, where the girls were dressed in black leotards and tights, and the girl’s club, whose members recited poems.
Meanwhile, Sa’Nya Burton, 13, was in the corner of the gymnasium with a few other students constructing a life-sized gingerbread house out of cardboard, wrapping paper and tape.
“I like making things out of nothing, and this is something no one’s ever seen before,” said Sa’Nya, who hopes to become an architect.
University Prep Science and Math Middle School principal Mischa Bashir said this is at least the third year the schools have participated in Noel Night.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to showcase their talent,” she said.
Saturday’s festivities, scheduled from 5-10 p.m., are set to conclude with a sing-along on Wayne State University’s campus.