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Collaboration between rock band, Alabama school catching on

LEIGHTON, Ala. (AP) — What started as a simple partnership between the marketing department at Colbert County High School and the rock band Velcro Pygmies has become a program that’s gaining attention elsewhere.

The “Reach and Teach” program kicked off at the start of this school year, combining the talents of the band and its founder and lead singer Cameron Flener and Colbert County High School marketing teacher April Clark.

The partnership has resulted in an entertainment and educational program, offered free to schools, that combines the planning and marketing of a Velcro Pygmies concert with the creation of a school concert.

Colbert County High School hosted a Velcro Pygmies concert last spring with Clark’s class doing all the planning and promotion for it.

Though Clark was wading in uncharted waters with her marketing students, she developed a solid plan — one that resulted in a successful concert students initiated, planned and carried out.

After developing the “Reach and Teach” curriculum for schools, the two partnered with the national chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, an endorsement gained after presenting the program this year at FBLA conferences in New Orleans, St. Louis and Buffalo, New York.

Last week, teachers from Lee and Grissom high schools in Huntsville, attended a training session at Colbert County High School with Clark to learn more about nine lesson “Reach and Teach” program.

Both Huntsville schools will host concerts in the spring.

Clark took the teachers, Johnita Romine of Lee, and Maureen Christie of Grissom, through the lessons explaining how to implement them.

“You’re simply walking your students through the steps of putting on an incredible concert and they do it,” she said.

“It’s all on them, and they will be amazed at what they accomplish, all the while learning valuable techniques in marketing and promotion.”

Students are responsible for everything from creating the poster logos to determining ticket prices and establishing the actual concert venue.

Christie said the program is a positive, fun event for students.

“I’m not a rock person myself, but the kids are and this is all about them and them seeing their efforts pay off,” she said.

Romine said she knew she wanted to learn more about the program from the first mention of it.

“I think it’s great and our administrators are on board, and I think we just all want to present some positive options for our kids,” she said. “I’m most impressed with the educational element of the program. The students are truly invested in the event.”

Currently, several other schools are in the process of getting the program approved in their districts. A Florida school has also enrolled and is planning a January concert.

“It’s really growing, not just because Cam and his band put on a wonderful show, but because the educational aspect of it is also fun,” Clark said. “In addition, it is positive promotion for the school. It certainly was for us.”

State school board member Mary Scott Hunter of Huntsville is a supporter of the program. She applauded the involvement of the Huntsville schools.

“‘Reach and Teach’ started in Colbert County and when I saw it, I thought this needed to spread to other school districts,” Hunter said. “Huntsville city schools has the resources to try lots of programs but are very choosy. They see the learning value in ‘Reach and Teach’ and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

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