My husband and I have attended two recent Noonday Concerts at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, and they both lifted our spirits and renewed our hope in our young people.

As a teacher for more than 30 years, I am well aware of the educational challenges facing our country. Recently we did not score well in math and science compared to other countries, which in many cases educate only the most promising. In the United States, we attempt to educate all.

The recital of the Karger Scholars and Aspiring Artists on Dec. 5 was truly wonderful. These young people, all in their teens, already have outstanding backgrounds. Most play two or more instruments and excel in academic subjects as well as in sports.

The concert Dec. 12 was a sing-along. Sitting next to us in the balcony were students from Holy Cross in South Portland.

Under the skillful direction of Robert Russell, these young people soon were participating with the older audience sitting in the pews below. Their presence (especially the “four calling birds”) brought laughs and joy to all of us.

A heartfelt “thank you” to all who made these concerts happen.

Susan Bassler Pickford

Portland