by Lisa Tome
When budget cuts threatened cancellation of a long standing tradition at Bo Manor Middle School, two towns and a group of parents teamed up to save it.
The May 29 Eighth Grade Semi-Formal Dance will be held after all.
Parent Mary Cooper got the ball rolling.
Cooper, whose son, Gabe, is in 8th grade, said that in April, she and other parents received an automated phone call telling them that the dance would not be held this year due to budget cuts. During that call, parents of eighth graders were also notified that the eighth grade picnic, set for June, would be held as planned.
"It was disappointing. The dance is a rite of passage. The kids look forward to it. They get to dress up and say goodbye to middle school," said Cooper.
Cooper then contacted school principal Dr. Ann Little. Dr. Little met with eight parents including Cooper, as well as Mayor Joe Zang from the Town of Cecilton and Mayor Dean Geracimos from Chesapeake City. Each of the towns pledged $500 to the cause. That money will pay for refreshments, decorations, a DJ, and a photobooth. No student will have to pay to attend the dance this year. In the past, there has been an admission fee. "Every single kid can go if they want and we want every single (eighth grade) student to attend," said Geracimos.
Zang explained why Cecilton was willing to step in and help. "It's important because that (dance) is a tradition for the community. For someone to take it away arbitrarily...You're a middle schooler. The girls have already bought their dresses. For this to be a budget issue, it's a crock," said Zang.
Geracimos said he is in his 40s and still remembers his eighth grade formal dance. "It was a big thing. This is something for them to look forward to. Eighth grade is an accomplishment and this is something they deserve," said Geracimos.
He said that the students are grateful.
"The kids are already overly appreciative. I've had phone calls. I had a visit at town hall. This was a big deal to the kids," said Geracimos.
Geracimos said he plans to attend the dance. He will ask Zang to accompany him.
Cooper said that the parents will continue their efforts after the dance is over. "What we'd like to do is establish a parent organization for the middle school parents," said Cooper. "We would help raise funds and raise awareness that funds are needed. The power of parents should never be underestimated," said Cooper.
"There's something very special south of the bridge. We believe in a sense of community and work hard to continue the traditions," said Cooper.