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UPDATED: 8th Grade Rock Opera 2016-17 -- a community plea for help

posted Nov 20, 2016, 4:47 PM by Rebekah Folsom   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 4:38 PM by Admin at Winterhaven ]
Dear Winterhaven families --

UPDATE: As of 11/28/2016 we have met our $4020 goal!!

I'm writing today with a unique ask. This is a long message, but please take the time to read the entire letter.

For those of you new to Winterhaven, for the past six years, our (currently on maternity leave) 7/8th grade Language Arts teacher, Emily Ferguson, spent a big portion of each teaching year working with 8th grade students building an incredible experience in the form of an original Rock Opera.

The 60+ 8th graders write original scripts + lyrics, play the music, build the sets, work the crew, design costumes, and delight the community with a performance that is an incredible capstone project. This is the pride of each outgoing class, and I cannot overstate what a tremendous experience it is for the 8th graders and for us as a community!

At the end of last year, a pregnant Ms. Ferguson won OnPoint Credit Union's Educator of the Year award, in part, I believe, due to her exceptional work on the Rock Operas. Our community has been SO PROUD of her, but I'm sure I'm not the only parent who thought "but...what about this year's 8th graders?" They have been anticipating the same experience, but Ms. Miller (our current Language Arts long-term substitute) doesn't have the same production background, nor can she commit to the same long, mostly unpaid hours Ms. Ferguson spent each year on the Rock Opera.

Since Ms. Ferguson is a dedicated (and organized) teacher, she of course has been having these same concerns on behalf of her students. So after giving birth to beautiful baby Cleo, she put together a well-thought-out plan to come back to Winterhaven as an Artist in Residence and create a Rock Opera with this year's 8th graders starting in February. 

Emily's plan involves incorporating script-writing into Ms. Miller's 8th grade Language Arts classes, and then returning to Winterhaven once a week to hold intensive workshops / rehearsals on Wednesday afternoons (typically 1-5pm) from February-April until the scheduled Rock Opera performance dates April 19-21

The PTSA would love to help make the Rock Opera happen. Compared to other years, however, our PTSA annual donations are really, really behind. There is no current budget to hire an Artist in Residence or produce the Rock Opera. So, we are turning to you for help.

The estimated total (artist fees and production costs) is $4020. The PTSA has cut money from other budgets to come up with about $1000, but we are currently at least $3000 short. While this might seem like a lot of money, the costs align with (or are lower per hour) than what the school pays other Artists in Residence for other classroom productions (and the hours required from Emily are about triple those spent by other Artists in Residence on younger grade productions). 

We also want to acknowledge that for the past six years, families have not been asked to directly contribute to the Rock Operas, but our situation this year is unique and unprecedented and we appreciate your understanding this unusual circumstance.

If every family donated $8.33 per student attending Winterhaven, we'd reach $3000.

OR, if every 8th grade family chipped in $47 per 8th grader, we'd also have $3000, but we know that this is a large ask, so we are simply asking you to please donate anything you can to help the students get closer to that goal.

Ways to donate:
  • Go to our Home page and click the Donate button to use our Paypal account and (important) note: 8th grade Rock Opera donation
  • Give a check to Nancy or Caroline in the office made out to Winterhaven PTSA and in the notes: 8th grade Rock Opera donation
  • Put a check in the PTSA cubby in the office made out to Winterhaven PTSA and in the notes: 8th grade Rock Opera donation
Thank you VERY MUCH for making it all the way to the end of this letter, and for supporting our community.

Thank you,
Rebekah Folsom  Winterhaven PTSA Community Service Chair and ad hoc other stuff person • (503) 997-1236