Friends and Families “Stampede” Collins Elementary

When my good friend Maurice Smith and his lovely wife Joan asked that I fly in from my home in New York to review the “Collins Country Stampede” technology fundraiser at Collins Intermediate School, I confess I thought it was a wild idea. It turned out to be a night of wild fun!

As soon as I entered the school, I could sense the excited energy of the arriving students. Abundant bales of hay and a real antique Wells Fargo wagon highlighted the western atmosphere. A centerpiece of all the action was an electric bull whose sign proudly declared: “RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK!” That did not prevent courageous students and teachers from lining up to try their luck. Some of the enthusiastic students sported western hats, sombreros, and western boots. Thanks to the school’s PTO and its many volunteers, there were endless activities for this gala night of fun. Raffle tickets were available for a wide assortment of toys, games, prizes and restaurant certificates. There were auctions of everything from sports collectibles to gourmet foods. There were even special auctions for such opportunities as sharing lunch with teachers or shaving their heads! (Sorry Mr. Smith!) Elaborate gift baskets in many varieties were also on the auction block.

Meanwhile, the school library had an outstanding Book Fair, and they even accepted MasterCard! I couldn’t resist buying my young nephew, Colin, a Card Trick Magic Set. For those wanting refreshments, the library also had a lovely western-style café with a cowboy boot on every table.

Just down the hall, students could have a photo taken in a western setting. Another booth, titled “Charactature Art,” did not pass the spelling test for “caricature,” but allowed students to pose for an original artist’s drawing. There were youthful smiles everywhere, and despite the hundreds of excited youngsters running about, nothing serious in the way of rude behavior. What a tribute to the training they received from teachers and parents!

For entertainment, the school’s Collins Country Fiddlers were on hand to showcase the student string section and its fine instructor, [PLEASE INSERT TEACHER’S NAME.] They performed several fine numbers concluding with an unusual and snappy “Turkey in the Straw” that had a Boogie Woogie twist. For further fun, the staff “Technology Tearjerkers” had a variety of onstage hijinks and witty lyrics during two performances. Vicki Marsh provided a great rendition of Patsy Cline’s hit, “Crazy.” Beth Hall led a solid “Collins Cobra PTO.” Then the two combined forces for “Files Fly Away,” a fine spoof of “I’ll Fly Away.” But the ladies were not alone. They had fine back-up support from the teaching staff “Tearjerker Singers.” And oh, that choreography! Delicate arm movements, gentle hand waves, square dance twirls and sassy thigh slaps were like nothing I have ever seen on Broadway! And if that were not enough hilarity, Collins teacher, Matt Snebold, led a foot-stomping and uproarious spoof of  “Man of Constant Sorrow.”

As I enjoyed the show I thought back to something I had seen earlier while in the school’s library. I had picked up a copy of the New York Times best seller, “Eragon.” Written by teenager, Christopher Paolini, this fairytale-style book had a touching dedication that began, “This book is dedicated to my mom for showing me the magic in the world…” It seemed to me the teachers and PTO of Collins Intermediate had gone a long way toward showing their students the magic of the world. Bravo!

(The Villager   2.19.04)

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at
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