Champions sites unite for district talent show

A Champions student sings"Let It Go" from the popular movie "Frozen."

A Champions student sings”Let It Go” from the popular movie “Frozen.”

Patience. It’s one of the toughest skills to master. Jean Primas, site director at the Gilbert Park Champions program in Portland, Ore., landed on a creative way to help students learn this valuable skill – a talent show.

Children would learn the importance of patience as they collectively worked toward a future goal, but the project went beyond the process, evolving into a full-blown, standing-room-only community event. By the time students took to the stage in mid-March, Champions programs from three other schools – Menlo Park, Ventura Park, and Gilbert Heights – were involved.

“I was blown away by the attendance,” said Asbury Edens, Champions area manager. “The sites aren’t like centers: they’re isolated in different schools. They do great work but they’re not connected to each other. When Jean suggested a talent show at his school I challenged him to make it a big show for the district.”

Jean and his peers at the other sites rose to the challenge, creating talent show applications, planning the production work, inviting parents to attend, and helping children rehearse. When show time arrived on March 13, the Gilbert Park auditorium was packed with nearly 150 people, so many, they ran out of chairs.

“The event was great and made my night!” said Jessica Bandy, Knowledge Universe senior marketing associate. “It was moving to see all the kids dressed up and bravely performing in front of the large crowd.”

One of Jessica’s favorite moments was when the Ventura Park students and their site director performed a choreographed dance to a song about basketball – all while wearing their homemade Champions t-shirts. All told there were about 30 different performances during the two hour show and parents and children loved every minute. Families had such a good time they immediately began asking Asbury and her team when the next show would be (an end-of-year dance in June).

“This was a great opportunity to bring everyone together and make some in-person connections,” Asbury said. She and her team are already planning more community events for all of the Champions programs in her district. Next year they plan to have at least one even per quarter, starting with a back-to-school barbeque. And, of course, a second annual talent show.

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