The Bellaire seventh graders have been adament that they are going to do their part to help the upcoming school levy vote pass.
The group of nearly 50 kids isn't just sitting around and talking about getting involved.
The students are taking matters into their own hands.
BELLAIRE seventh grader Cameron Burton works on the planning of Tuesday’s Picnic in the Park as teacher Sheri McAninch offers assistance. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
With a t-shirt sale and rubber-band bracelet sale well under way, the seventh graders have been planning for their latest venture.
The inaugural 'Picnic in the Park' will be held Tuesday from 5 until 7:30 p.m.
"It's going to be sort of like a carnival," said teacher and advisor Sheri McAninch. "There will be all sorts of events and activities going on simultaneously."
There will be activities for people of all ages along with concession stands set up. All of the proceeds from the event will go directly to the Bellaire Local Schools fund to help alleviate the financial crisis the school district is in the midst of.
"The kids have spent hours and hours both at school and on their own time to make this successful event," McAninch said. "They've made me want to work even harder and do even more to help ensure the passing of the levy."
Some of the specific activities include: crafts for kids; coloring contest; bake sale and food/drinks. There will also be performances by the Bellaire High School Jazz Band and Bellaire Middle School Choir.
The aforementioned bracelets, which read, 'not on our watch' will be sold. There will also be a pie toss where patrons will have the chance to hit Bellaire Middle School Principal Derrick McAfee, Bellaire Schools Administrative Assistant Kevin Roseberry, head cross country coach and teacher Chris Arno and local radio personality Steve Novotney in the face with a pie.
McAninch and Bellaire Middle School teacher John Farrier, who has also been instrumental in helping to oversee the students during these projects, have pointed out that the kids themselves will be running the booths.
The students have met several times over the last few weeks without missing any class time to prepare for this event.
All of the preparation work from promotion to organizing to seeking donations has been done by the students.
"I am amazed by these kids," McAninch said. "I look at these kids, how hard they've worked and how emotional they get when they hear about how they're making a difference and it's great. This is the real deal, these kids get it."
The number of students involved has increased since the project began. The students have broken down into different committees with each group responsible for a different part of the Picnic in the Park.
The ideas from these students started being thrown around last month during an informational talk with Bellaire School officials.
Taylor Price, a member of the seventh grade, was talking with her friends and expressing her desire to graduate as a Big Red and not have to go elsewhere for her future schooling. From there, many other students got involved.
"Things are really going well, and I hope this is going to be a big success," Price said. "Everyone's really working hard on this. I really though this was just an idea, and really never thought it would turn into something this big, but I am definitely glad it has."
The efforts of the students and their desire to graduate from Bellaire High School hasn't gone unnoticed in the community, according to the results McAninch has received during her door-to-door walks through the community.
"We've had people say that they were voting no, but then when they saw the pride these kids had, they're going to vote yes," McAninch said. "We've had people donate services or supplies before we even asked. Whether you're for the levy or not, it's hard to deny the passion these students have for this cause."
Whether or not the levy, which calls for a 1 percent income tax, goes through or not remains to be seen, but the learning experience for these kids is unmatched.
"This has been an amazing learning experience," McAninch said. "They've learned how to properly handle themselves in such situations and learned to work together toward a common goal. Finally, they've learned how much more something means when you're involved and your voice is being heard to make a difference."
Obviously with the bouts of bad weather the area has experienced this month, McAninch, Farrier and the students had to come up with an alternate plan in case of bad weather. If there's inclement weather, the event wil be shifted to the high school gymnasium and cafeteria.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org