On Friday, students at Central Elementary and Jefferson Intermediate presented checks to the Bonham Theatre Project to participate in the “Chair-ity” Campaign, that came from a school-wide Change for Chairs Campaign raising a total of $2,350.
Brooke Schwab, President of the Bonham Theatre Project, is glad to see students being active in the community, noting that they raised enough funds for 11 chairs at the Bonham Theatre.
“Kids brought in change to collect money for the chairs,” said Schwab. “Each grade level was challenged to raise $250 so they could get a chair per grade level. Every grade, pre-k through sixth, made their goal. Some of them almost raised enough for two chairs.”
Schwab noted that the first grade raised the most money during the campaign at Central, and the fifth grade class raised the most at Jefferson, meaning that they have the opportunity to take a private tour of the newly-renovated Bonham Theatre before it opens to the public.
“They will get the chance to come see what it’s going to look like, so it’s pretty exciting,” Schwab said. “They were all very excited about it, and I think it’s cool just to see them really go crazy over the challenge. They surpassed everyone’s expectations, which is just awesome.”
Patty Smith, Principal at Central Elementary School, explained that this was a great way for students to stay active in the community. She believes that community involvement is a fundamental piece to education.
“We got involved because when students are involved in activities, especially ones like this, they really get excited about it,” said Smith. “Every student was able to at least bring a penny or something to contribute. The involvement of the children really got it going. These students really want to have a theatre in the community.”
(Photo of the afternoon preschool class contributed by Brooke Schwab)
To celebrate the accomplishment all of the grades are hosting a popcorn party, Smith explained. She believes the campaign went well, and she hopes that the students will continue to stay active in the community.
“I think everyone was really shocked to see just how excited the students were and how much money it actually brought in,” Smith said. “It was a neat thing to see among both school. I just think that whenever kids are involved in an activity, or moving towards something that helps the community really helps.”
Jeremy Christiansen, Principal at Jefferson Intermediate, explained that the idea for the campaign came from the third grade class, after they raised funds with the help of FBLA through the American Enterprise Project. Christiansen stated that the students wanted to make a donation to the Bonham Theatre Project. That idea grew into a friendly competition between schools.
Christiansen explained that the Fairbury PTA gave each grade $50 to start the competition. Then the students had eight days to raise the funds. In that time, Central raised $1,300 and Jefferson raised $1,050.
“Kids were encouraged to bring in change from home,” said Christiansen. “Within days, we were seeing balances of hundreds of dollars. In the end, every grade exceeded their goal. It was great. It really shows what our kids and their families can do when they put their mind to something. Also, looking at what people can do when they come together. Not one them would be able to donate the full amount, but when they come together as a group, they were able to accomplish this, and everyone is able to see the benefits.”
Christiansen sees this as one of the way the students in Fairbury are learning to give back to their community, working together to achieve a common goal.
“A lot of our work with our students is based on ways to connect kids to their communities and see that they’re part of something bigger,” Christiansen said. “In each of our grades we talk about ways students fit into the community and the responsibility they have to give back. Having those conversations is really important for the kids.”
Schwab hopes to see the students at Fairbury High School take on the Change for Chairs Campaign to sponsor chairs for their grades. She explained that some of the organizations at the high school have contacted her to ask about the “Chair-ity” Campaign.
On Saturday, the Bonham Theatre Project is hosting another work day, and is seeking volunteers to help with the renovation project. Anyone is welcome to come to the Bonham Theatre to help with the volunteer day.
Schwab explained that the deadline is approaching for the first round of the “Chair-ity” Campaign, and she hopes to see all of the chairs being sponsored.
“People can keep getting the chairs, they’ll just be in the second round of nameplates,” said Schwab. “It’ll still be before the theatre opens. We’re trying to get all 234 seats spoken for by the time we open. We have close to 135 nameplates purchased, which is really good. I’d like to get more done though. Things are moving along!”
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