The Concord community comes out in full force each year for the four
public performances of Concord High School's Christmas Spectacular.
Director of Music Scott Spradling opens the 2014 show amidst a sea of
musicians and vocalists.
You can help Concord Students meet $250,000 fundraising Goal for Riley Children's Hospital!
Dunlap, Ind. Mercedez Manges sat hunched over a spinning mass of moist clay. The Concord High School senior was making pottery. She was also making a difference.
On a recent Saturday morning at the school, Manges was one of nearly 140 CHS art students taking part in the annual Potter’s Marathon. The event is a Concord fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children. Over the last 16 years, the Marathon has raised close to a quarter-million dollars for the hospital.
The student-produced pottery will be available for purchase during an upcoming sale at the school.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since my freshman year,” Manges said of the Marathon, noting that she also participated last year as a junior. “I’ve been in ceramics since my freshman year. I’ve always been into art.”
A key reason Manges wanted to be part of the Potter’s Marathon involves her own history. She was a onetime Riley patient herself, and was in and out of the hospital from around age 3 until she was 10. She knows what Riley has to offer children in need.
The Potter’s Marathon begins at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and continues until 6 a.m. Sunday. During that 24-hour stretch, students produce pottery and also make calls or head out into the community to secure donations.
Seniors are allowed to work the entire 24-hour period. Underclassmen dubbed “redshirts” can work one of three shifts.
CHS art teacher Bob Bieber said the Marathon got started in 1999. Bieber had been thinking about what he wanted and needed to do as an educator at Concord, and how to benefit the art program. He said he was driving home one day and stopped at an intersection near a Marathon convenience station. The name proved to be an inspiration.
The next morning, Bieber pitched his idea to Rob Staley and Ellen Stevens, both at that time administrators in the Concord school system.
“Rob Staley said, ‘If it’s good for kids, then we’re going to do it,’” Bieber said. Staley and Stevens also suggested Riley hospital as the beneficiary of the fundraising. And the Potter’s Marathon was off and running.
“We started with just 10 students,” Bieber said, adding that most of the pupils had never worked a potter’s wheel before. “Most of them didn’t know where the switch was to turn it on.”
The Potter’s Marathon has grown and succeeded over the years. Student participation has increased more than tenfold since the Marathon began. Also, according to Bieber, the Concord event ranks as the largest single-day fundraiser for a charity in the state of Indiana.
Prior to this year’s event, the Potter’s Marathon had raised a total $221,000 for Riley hospital. Bieber said the unofficial 2014 total thus far is $24,000.
There is still time for patrons to put the CHS total closer to the quarter-million mark. Bieber said the pottery produced during the Marathon will be on sale in the CHS front showcase from Dec. 15 to 19, or until all pieces are sold.
“All pieces are priced so that they sell quickly,” Bieber said. “It is first-come, first-served.”
Anne's Kits for Kids is one of the ways Concord Schools is helping our families support their young readers outside of the classroom. You can support Anne's Kits for Kids by purchasing a 2015 calendar. Go to www.anneskitsforkids.org for more information.
CONCORD’S “TOP” PROGRAM ACCELERATES NEW HIRES
DUNLAP, Ind. Faith Aukerman stands in front of a class of kindergarten students at Concord West Side Elementary School. The theme of today's lesson, fitting for an autumn morning, is November. The lesson plan calls for Aukerman to be part teacher, part cheerleader.
"Give me an 'N'!" she urges her pupils.
"N!" they cheerfully respond.
"Give me a 'O'!" she shouts.
"O!" they reply.
Soon enough arrives the finale. "What's that spell?" Aukerman asks.
Aukerman is helping to teach and guide young people new to the education system, and she might be considered "new" herself. Aukerman has been teaching for three years, but the 2014-‐15 academic year marks her first in the Concord school system. She has had some help, too.
Concord schools are home to the Teacher Orientation Program (TOP). The program provides information, guidance and support to teachers both new to the profession and new to the Concord district. Teachers take part in TOP the first full week before classes begin, and sessions continue throughout the school year.
According to Stubbs, the corporation developed the TOP program as a way to familiarize teachers with Concord's values and culture. "Teachers come to us, whether they're fresh out of college or coming to us from another district, and they may know about what they need to do in their classroom because of their education," the superintendent said. "But do they know that much about what they're doing coming to Concord schools? [TOP was established] to make sure we have an opportunity to bring them into our way of thinking as far as our approach to students and families and the schools."
Renee Cocanower and Bryan Waltz, directors of secondary and elementary curriculum at Concord, lead TOP. Cocanower said TOP is not a teacher retraining effort. Rather, it involves making sure instructors know about Concord students, and providing an "inside scoop" of sorts regarding what they will face entering Concord classrooms. Through TOP, Aukerman learned valuable information about technology, retirement and financial planning. She also gained insight into how to best connect with students in the Concord district.
"I just felt so prepared to teach," Aukerman said of her TOP experience.
TOP is invaluable to new teachers in the Concord school corporation. In Aukerman's view, that corporation is like a family.
"Everybody wants to help you," she said. "They just really want to make sure you know what's going on. And I think that's awesome for first-‐year teachers and even teachers new to a district. That really helps form a bond and makes it feel more like a team versus, 'It's just me and my kids and we're just trying to make it.'"
Self portrait of Mighty Miguel - one of the thousands of students we are helping succeed.