The Press Newspaper
Parents, teachers and community members received a special gift from the students at Jerusalem Elementary School during the school’s annual Jet Jamboree held on Monday, June 3.
The special day of fun was made even more memorable thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Jerusalem Parents Group (JPG), teachers and the students themselves.
According to Kelly Wolfe, corresponding secretary of the JPG, members of the organization wanted to do something special for the half day event.
“The JPG meets monthly and one topic that has been discussed the last year or so was the idea of promoting more music, art and performance based opportunities for the kids at Jerusalem,” Wolfe said. “We knew that the parents group at Coy Elementary put on a musical each year and did a wonderful job. We had the idea of a talent show but by mid- year we didn’t think we would have enough time to organize it, schedule it and recruit the kids to participate before the end of the year.”
Wolfe, who has a 25 year background in dancing and has choreographed dance routines and musicals for Central Catholic and Clay High School, thought they should try to make up a dance the kids could perform at the end of the carnival.
“A day or so later, I really began thinking about how would I actually get the kids together,” she said. “How would they feel about participating and dancing? How am I going to get all of them to work together dealing with ages 5 to 12, both boys and girls, children who have physical and learning disabilities, and for some who are just shy and might be afraid to perform?”
Involving the whole school, every student, regardless of age and ability was important to Wolfe and the JPG. Wolfe's daughter, Kayley, a third grade student at the school, has a rare genetic movement disorder that affects her balance, movement and coordination.
“I was already fully aware of wanting to make sure all of the kids be a part of this performance no matter what their abilities or disabilities,” Wolfe said. “I knew Jerusalem also has other students with Cerebral Palsy and one student ,Alivianna Gallup, that uses a motorized scooter due to Muscular Dystrophy, who I wanted to make sure was able to be a part of this with her classmates.”
The song “All for One” from High School Musical 2 was used because it went with the “Summer Fun” theme and it reinforced the idea of bringing all of the kids together and performing all together as one, Wolfe said.
Ms. Linda Rossler, physical education teacher and Ms. Elizabeth Gibson, music teacher assisted with getting the children in from their recess, so they could learn the dance from Wolfe and the two other parent volunteers, Terri Medere and Rebecca Zimmerman.
“We got the kids excited by having them learn this during recess on their own time, so they could surprise their teachers, parents and guests that showed up at the end of the school year with a surprise performance,” Wolfe explained.
Over three days, all of the students practiced by grade level, Wolfe said. The first time the students got together as a whole was the afternoon of the performance.
“The parents, teachers, school administration, and guests were surprised,” she said. “I heard the first verse of ‘All for One’ and saw over 500 fingers pointing up in the air like the number one I knew they were. They were together as one for one last time. I hope they will remember how it felt for all of them to be able to come together as a school no matter their grade, interests or ability and keep that lesson in life with them for a long time.”
Beverly Gallup and her husband Michael were very surprised by the dance and very proud of their daughter, Alivianna, a first grade student.
“Oh my gosh, it was so cute,” Beverly said. “She (Alivianna) loves to dance so it was so perfect for her to get out in front of everyone to dance. I am proud of all she has done.”
Alivianna has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The young lady uses a motorized scooter to get around and to stay as involved as she can in multiple activities, Beverly explained.
“When we first got the diagnosis, we thought she is not going to be able get around,” Beverly said. “We were thinking the worse at that time. I never thought she would be so happy. She really wanted to do this dance.”
Beverly said Alivianna has been to two other schools before attending Jerusalem. The culture of the school as well as the parents, teachers and the students have made the transition very easy for her daughter, she said.
“I have known Kelly (Wolfe) for a few years,” Beverly said. “She told me about this dance and she made sure there was a lot was hand movements in it. She geared it towards kids who can’t move or stand as much. Not a lot of people do that. That school takes into account the different abilities of the students. The kids were so inviting of Alivianna. As soon as she went there, she was just accepted.”
PJ Kapfhammer, school board president, attended the Jamboree which included games, a dunking booth, Putt Putt, a DJ, and an obstacle course.
“It was great to see all the kids having so much fun together,” Kapfhammer said. “The staff and parent group at Jerusalem go above and beyond to make sure the kids have a great experience at the Jerusalem carnival. The kids were all having such a great time and it was a special day for everyone who attended the event.”
Each year JPG hosts the end of the year celebration for the students from the group’s annual fundraising events and with the help of area businesses who sponsor the Jet Jamboree.
Platinum Sponsors this year, who donated $1,000 or more, were The Press Newspapers, BP/Husky and Ace Roofing. Sponsors were recognized and presented with a plaque.