School support groups pitch in to find funds


POSTED: Sunday, September 13, 2009

Students and faculty at Kaimuki High School's Performing Arts Center got help from professionals at a Sept. 5 fundraising concert billed as “;Save the Performing Arts.”;

Local entertainers Danny Kaleikini, Kimo Kahoano, Mel Cabang and others joined the students on stage for the event, which included a spaghetti dinner and a silent auction.

The concert, which raised about $4,500, is the first step in a campaign by teachers, students and supporters to meet a budget shortfall that threatens to close the dramatic arts program, said Peggy Siegmund, musical theater director.

“;We're funded through this school year; for next year, we don't know. We need an angel like the symphony has.”;

The state budget crisis has other public school support groups seeking to forestall cuts in the quality of education for their children.

The Parent Teacher Student Association at Pauoa Elementary School has taken the classic approach, selling tickets for Zippy's chili. But this year it's not to enhance selected programs, it is to keep teacher positions intact.

Pauoa Principal Roberta Richards asked the parent group to pay half the tab for a part-time physical education teacher and to fund a part-time paraprofessional tutor to aid teachers in kindergarten classes. The goal is $21,000.

“;We're trying to be creative,”; said Richards. “;It gets harder every year.”;

Kaimuki teacher Rikki Jo Hickey said $13,000 was cut from the arts center's budget allocation, which is usually $28,000.

“;We are focusing this year on saving our program,”; said Hickey, who teaches acting classes.

Siegmund said the center offers classes in acting, singing, dance and technical backstage operations. As many as 200 students participate in the annual November public performance of a musical.

The student thespians entertain more than 4,000 elementary school students in the fall performances, which are linked to a literature program in schools. This year it will be “;Just So Stories,”; by Rudyard Kipling.

A Halloween carnival with costumes and entertainment is the next fundraiser planned. Contributions may be made directly to Kaimuki High School, designated for the KHSPAC, said teacher M.J. Matsushita.

The Kaiser High School Parent Teacher Student Association and school administration are asking parents to make a $150 per family tax-deductible donation. The goal of the “;Cougar Pride”; campaign is $150,000, to offset cuts of three teachers and six classified posts, as well as reductions in the supply and equipment budget.

“;If successful, this campaign will send a message that we all have a stake in this crisis,”; said PTSA secretary Darcie Yoshimoto, who has two children at Kaiser. “;It's time we pull together as one family, one team and support our students.”;