Entry by Katharine da Costa, Essex Public School, Guest Blogger
There is no coincidence that I love the show “Glee” and after attending last year’s high school show choir championships, I recognized what a rewarding experience it was for the secondary students. Despite no show choir experience of my own and limited music training, I decided to start a show choir this year at my elementary school.
A little background first. My school is small, only about 90 Grade 7 and 8’s and they had never had any experience like this before. I work in the TDSB and this year teach Drama and Dance, Phys. Ed. and Health. Our school is comprised of many newcomers to Canada—lovely families. We don’t do a lot of field trips or have many presentations at our school because a lot of the students simply can’t afford it. Usually $10 a ticket is the unspoken maximum that we will request from a family for a special event.
Knowing that there were entry fees, musical arrangement fees, transportation costs, guest teachers to bring in, and costumes to be bought, I was already thinking in the summer about how in the heck I was going to pull this off. That and the fact that I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of financial support was making me nervous. So when I had assembled the team and brought them to their first meeting, the top of the agenda was money. How can we raise money? The usual suggestions were given—bake sale, candy grams, garage sale, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, this was going to be a tough road ahead.
Well, after mulling it over for a while, I decided that I had to be aggressive in my efforts to get this glee team off the ground. So, I hit the pavement. After school one day I circulated the neighbourhood with a prepared speech in my head. I held my head up high and did it for the kids. I told the local businesses in the community who I was, what I had started at their local elementary school, and the great experience this would be for these kids. Then I told them any form of sponsorship would be greatly appreciated.
After about 1.5 hour I jumped on the TTC with a large smile on my face. By and large, it was an easy sell. I received commitments of both product and cash donations from a grocery store, coffee house, a bank, car dealership, spa salon, and a restaurant. The products I used to auction or raffle off at our winter concert. There, I put the glee team to work as they hustled to sell raffle tickets and just get the word out that they were a part of this great new thing at the school. They were hyped and did a great job. Of course, they also closed the show with the one song they had already learned. And the crowd loved them. Afterwards, another amazing surprise—we got a $500 donation from a father of one of the kids who is a president of a large company. That turned out to be the largest cash donation.
In return, I promised these companies signage at both our winter and spring concert as well as mentions in our programs. They were also invited to our spring concert at the school with VIP seating as our glee team will be in full force at that time. I also had the kids sign their names in a card with little messages.
Now I admit, it was w-o-r-k. It was work to prepare a speech, to get out in the community, to organize the raffle and silent auction and the tables that displayed these items, to get the kids hyped, to collect all the money, and the list goes on and on. It has afforded me however, the ability to do what I want to do with my glee team. Including expenses, I raised just over $2000. Not bad for a rookie gleek, eh?
I am writing this because I know many of you have the same financial struggles at your schools. Don’t despair, if I did it, you can too. I am just like you. I have a busy life—two children under 6 at home, extra curricular activities, report cards, etc, etc. I have good time management skills and these have come in handy when organizing all this stuff (granted with a little help from others). This has given me a real sense of accomplishment. I look forward to seeing the finished product but most of all, seeing my kids enjoying this experience as they build a lifetime of memories has been the greatest reward. Good luck to all and I look forward to meeting you in April. Can’t wait!