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October 30, 2002 1 min read
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Dialing for Dollars

Schools in Harvey, La., will get their 15 minutes of fame next year when their district holds a telethon to highlight schools’ achievements and make clear their needs.

The 50,000-student Jefferson Parish district plans to produce the four-day program, with six hours of programming a day, for a local cable channel in January.

In July, local voters turned down a sales-tax increase that would have benefited the schools. But the telethon—which was in the works before that defeat—won’t be just a fund-raiser, said Sal LaRock, the district’s director of community education.

“We want to get the local community back into their schools,” he said. “People might see it and say, ‘We can go over and paint on the weekend.’ ”

Of the district’s 83 schools, 51 have signed up for the program, which is being produced with the help of local cable outlets and personalities from area television stations.

The schools will star in 15- minute segments, now being taped, that underscore their students’ talents and also let viewers know what they need—which could be fresh paint, new whiteboards, or computers.

At one school, for example, the program will feature a mentoring program called Helping Hands that links 5th graders with special education students, said Karen Boudrie, the executive producer of the telethon and the owner of a communications firm.

And viewers will learn that one of the district’s high schools operates a branch of the district’s credit union, staffed by student tellers.

In addition to taped segments on the participating schools, the telethon will feature information on how community members can either get involved or help meet schools’ needs, contained in their “wish lists.”

Schools are requesting materials, such as equipment, and help with such tasks as painting, gardening, and repairing sidewalks. They’re also looking for mentors and tutors for students, Ms. Boudrie said.

Viewers also will be treated to live entertainment put on by students, including cheerleaders, thespians, and members of debate teams.

The program is being produced with money from the district’s community education program, which is financed by private dollars, not tax money.

“Hopefully, this will be a whole new day for education here,” Ms. Boudrie said. “We want to bring everyone together and get moving in the right direction.”

—Ann Bradley

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