By Jenna Henry
Who among us does not remember the first time we entered a theater to see a live performance; the thrill of walking into a large auditorium with the red velvet curtain, the arch of the stage, the plush seats? When the music started, I remember it filling the space all around me. For me, it was at the San Francisco Opera House. For thousands of children in the north valley, this experience happens at Laxson Auditorium on the Chico State campus every month.
Chico Performances is dedicated to bringing live performances to the youth of this area. Through their Field Trip series, 26 performances are offered during school hours for local student groups. As a way to join together local businesses, classrooms, and children, Chico Performances started the Adopt-A-Class program in 1997, with a grant from the City of Chico.
The Adopt-A-Class program was developed as an opportunity for businesses, organizations, and individuals to help underwrite children’s exposure to the arts. “We found that businesses who adopt in this program enjoy the experience of seeing their adopted classes coming to the field trips. They go with the classes to see these performances and the energy throughout the auditorium is inspiring,” says Daran Goodsell, Chico Performances marketing coordinator.
It is programs like this that help create a healthy, thriving community and give our children the opportunity to grow, both inside and outside the classroom, and all at no cost to the adopted classes. In the 2012-13 season, 70 classes have been adopted by our community. The program offers early purchase of tickets to the businesses and individuals who adopt, allowing their classes to get first pick of seats to field trips that often sell out.
With the Adopt-A-Class program, Chico Performances is able to team individuals and businesses in the area with local classrooms, and make a difference in children’s lives by shedding light on the world of performing arts. Adopting a class to attend a performance is $200, which includes up to 40 seats for students, chaperones, teachers, and adopters.
“I think it’s really important to see live performances,” says Madeline Keaveney of Chico. Keaveney adopts classes from Capay School where her daughter teaches, and granddaughter goes to school. “I grew up in Boston and because the arts were so prominent, I had the privilege of being exposed to many different types of performances. For many of the kids in this area, it’s their first time seeing a live performance,” says Keaveney. “Adopt-A-Class helps foster growth and learning, and for some kids creates a life-long love for the arts. I want to pass that along.”
The Paradise Elks Lodge partners with Chico Performances to adopt all 3rd grade classes from Ponderosa Elementary in Paradise, CA. “It’s a great program; the kids love it and learn a lot from it,” says Elks Lodge officer, Alan Bates. “It gives kids something else to think about. They get to see individuals that are dedicated and who have worked hard to make something of themselves,” says Bates. The Elks Lodge is a service organization that understands the importance of giving kids opportunities outside the classroom, and commits funds for that purpose. “What we’re trying to do is give them something they might not get at home, and expose them to things going on in the world,” says Bates.
Barbara and Bob Malowney, owners of Bird in Hand in downtown Chico, adopt their grandchildren’s classes because they are passionate about all ages in Chico experiencing quality cultural events.
“Our grandkids and their classmates bond over these shared experiences and performances, and we love the opportunity Chico Performances provides to enhance their cultural and social education,” says Bob Malowney.
For a small cost, businesses and individuals alike can give children the opportunity of a lifetime with the Adopt-A-Class program. “It is well worth the underwriting cost to hear the excitement in their voices in the retelling of the performances,” says Barbara Malowney. “We feel the results are measurable in their enhanced outlook of learning about the world.”
Chico Performances is grateful of how far the program has come and cannot thank the community enough for its support. If you would like to get involved with the Adopt-A-Class program, please visit Chico Performances’ website at www.chicoperformances.com, or call the University Box Office at 898-6333.