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Newtown Middle School art teachers Leigh Anne Coles and Kristen Ladue sat on the school’s auditorium stage after school on September 6, facing students interested in participating in the annual Eighth Grade Scarecrow Contest.
Since the program began 1996, eighth grade students have been tasked to work in groups to create a larger-than-life scarecrow that can withstand Mother Nature. Some years that meant withstanding hurricane winds and rain, and other years it meant holding up under sunny skies and occasional leaves drifting along the front lawn of the school. While students can work alone, they are encouraged to work in groups.
The event is a fundraiser, and money raised from votes goes to the charities of the top three winning groups’ choosing. Once the scarecrows are on display on the front lawn of the school, voting will be open to the public. Members of the public may cast as many votes as they choose, with corresponding $1 donations.
Students who participate in the contest or who volunteer to collect votes while the scarecrows are on view receive community service hours.
The meeting on September 6 was held to share information about the contest with students. The students had until September 8 to come up with ideas for their scarecrow and submit the idea for approval. As Ms Coles told the students, the scarecrow creations should not include guts, gore, or violence. She told them if their idea would make little children cry, they should avoid it.
“One of the things you are trying to get is people to vote for your scarecrow,” Ms Ladue said, advising the students to pick a popular theme or character that people may recognize. Choosing the right inspiration for a scarecrow, she continued, may lead to more votes/money for the charity of a group’s choice.
This year’s scarecrows will be set up for display, on a first come, first in place basis, after school on Friday, October 20. Voting on the scarecrows will be open to the public on Saturday, October 21, and Sunday, October 22. Votes can be made during voting hours on both days at the school, or dropped off in The Newtown Bee’s letter slot in the front door of its 5 Church Hill Road office, with the envelopes marked “NMS Scarecrows,” by the end of Sunday.
Results from the ballot collection will be announced at the school and in a future edition of the paper.
Student groups are limited to spending no more than $25 on their projects, and all of the work is completed outside of school.
For the 2016-17 school year’s contest roughly 30 scarecrows were entered into the fundraising contest.
Last year’s contest raised $1,458 for local charities.
Based on the number of students who attended the informational meeting, Ms Ladue and Ms Coles are expecting between 20 and 30 scarecrows for this year’s fundraising contest.
“I think we will have a lot of groups this year,” said Ms Coles.
After the teachers shared information about the contest, students began signing up and submitting ideas for scarecrows. Some students said they already had ideas in mind while other groups began brainstorming theme ideas. By the end of the meeting some students were already submitting ideas for approval.
Once ideas are approved, students will begin working on their scarecrow creations.