A festival to make a difference at Bethke Elementary

The students at Bethke Elementary School in Timnath presented a festival with a twist on the evening of April 25 in their school gym. Music, singing, dancing, art displays, a variety of food to enjoy, books to buy, demonstrations and videos made for a special evening for parents, visitors and students. Yet the “Kids Can Make a Difference Festival” aimed to do much more than provide an evening of food and fun entertainment.

A group of Bethke students have been working since last fall to create an event intended to reach out beyond their own community to acknowledge and address the needs of a wider world.

Technology teacher Brad Flickinger, commonly referred to as Mr. Flick, was one of several teachers committed to increasing the awareness of Bethke students concerning the needs of the world in which they live. More than that, the teachers hoped to provide their students with avenues to serve and to address real problems with workable solutions.

They elected to raise funds for Libraries for All, an organization based in Loveland that works to establish lending libraries in Nicaragua where they are often non-existent. “It’s a great cause and it’s locally based,” Flickinger said.

Since the first days of school last fall, the students at Bethke have been working toward the festival in a number of ways. After an introduction to the project, they began working to organize the event, along the way learning research skills, writing personal papers, and deciding what their roles were to be in the event. As the time drew closer, they began rehearsing the musical portion.

Some created art, in the form of T-shirts and posters to spread the word, others composed and selected music, created videos, and planned demonstrations. Flickinger said that planning for the event over an extended period of time has made it more meaningful to everyone involved.

Music at the festival was performed by the Totally NEON iPad Band made up of fourth and fifth graders who performed nine songs from the 1980’s using iPads to produce music from the era most familiar to many of their parents. Skillfully performed dance numbers brought back memories as well.

Admission to the festival was free, but visitors were welcome to make donations. A portion of profits from the sale of books at the Scholastic Book Fair, included as part of the festival, went to the cause. Profits from an art auction and several food trucks contributed a portion their profits as well. Flickinger said he was pleased to be able to keep admission free and still raise funds to support the establishment of libraries in Nicaragua. Two thousand participants were expected at the festival.

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