Annapolis Middle Dancers Need $18K for Trip to Orange Bowl

Students seek community support to raise funds for unique opportunity.

The Annapolis Middle School (AMS) Dance Company is in need of $18,000 to allow 12 students to perform at the halftime show at the 2011 Orange Bowl, a nationally televised college football championship.

Kendra Smith, who is a dance and physical education teacher at AMS, received word last spring that the group was anonymously nominated to perform during the show to be held Jan. 3, 2011, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. The event is managed by Bowl Games of America to provide opportunities for dance, drill and cheer teams as well as marching bands. The AMS Dance Company was offered the chance to perform in front of thousands with nationally acclaimed choreographers and instructors such as Mandy Moore, whose routines have appeared on the popular TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance."

After the initial excitement wore off, Smith and the dance company faced the reality that the county may not approve the request for the group to participate. Furthermore, since AMS would be the first middle school in Maryland to participate in the event, there is no precedent for raising the necessary funds. There are 11 girls and one boy who want to participate at a cost of $1,500 each. Parents said that it was difficult to organize fundraisers during the summer since they didn't receive final approval for the group to participate until early July, when many families were on vacation.

Parents are frantically trying to raise $18,000 that is due in just a few short weeks when 50 percent of the balance is due later this month. They hope to obtain the money through fundraisers and tax-credit donations from businesses and the community. The $1,500 package includes transportation, four nights at a hotel, some meals, a game show ticket, costume, professional choreography and instruction, DVD of performance, souvenirs, and liability insurance.

Mary Virginia Kizer Ball, 14, enjoys dancing with her friends in the group and looks forward to the opportunity to meet new people since they will perform with thousands of other students from around the country. Her mother, Julie, says parents are honored that their children were chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yet, it's been frustrating for parents who are not professional fundraisers but see the need to quickly organize their efforts. She adds that they want the community to share in this honor because the AMS Dance Company performing in the Orange Bowl is a coup for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the entire Annapolis area.

Smith felt it was important for her students who received the nomination last year to be able to participate, although some have moved onto high school. Since some members of the dance team from last year chose not to participate, Smith held invitation-only auditions for AMS dance students over the summer to round out the company. There are two Annapolis High School (AHS) freshmen, in addition to 10 AMS students, who will perform at the Orange Bowl as part of the dance company.

Monique Jackson, principal at AMS, supports the dance company's efforts and speaks highly of Smith's efforts to lead the dancers. She praises Smith for embracing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) philosophy and for being a teacher who "thinks outside the box." Parents feel the same way about Smith, who was new to AMS last year, and say that she's an inspiration to her students.

Madison White, 14, also a freshman at AHS, said she was "ecstatic" when she heard the news that the group was selected. As an IB MYP student, White acknowledges that IB learners strive to be risk takers. She and Kizer Ball are excited about performing for an audience of roughly 75,000 people and appearing on a nationally televised broadcast.

White's mother, Rebecca, said that the girls have actively participated in fundraising efforts and that they're learning a valuable lesson about perseverance.

"If you want something, you have to figure out how to make it happen."


How to Donate:

All donations are tax deductible and should be made payable to Annapolis Middle School with "Orange Bowl Donation" in the memo line and mailed to:

Annapolis Middle School

Attention: Mrs. Kendra Smith, Department of Dance

1399 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403


Upcoming fundraising events for AMS Dance Company:

Sept. 11, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Water sales at Germantown Elementary (for Navy game attendees)

Sept. 16, 6 to 8 p.m., Water sales at AMS Back-to-School Night

Sept. 23, 6 to 9 p.m., Bruster's Ice Cream Scoop Night (with 90s karaoke)


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