Van Alstyne Elementary School Curriculum Coordinator and Van Alstyne High School Lady Panthers track and field head coach Rachel Sevarino helped students give back to the community with a talent show held on Wednesday, July 19. Van Alstyne Elementary students Anna Perez, Paige Scarbro, Reilly Young and Catherine Rollins hosted a talent show to benefit the Meadowbrook Care Center in Van Alstyne.

“The girls hosted a talent show for the fifth graders that the students gave any monetary donation to attend,” Sevarino said of the fundraising efforts by the students. “The four fifth-grade girls coordinated getting acts together and organizing all the different acts.”

The students had their work cut out for them, organizing an entire talent show to showcase the different and interesting skills of their fellow classmates. The entire performance was organized and performed with minimal assistance from the elementary school staff.

“Fifth-grade students took turns performing a talent on stage while their fellow fifth-grade classmates watched,” Sevarino said. “Some talent acts were singing, dancing, playing the piano, guitar, skits, comedy acts, bottle flipping and more.”

The idea for the show and its benefit was the brain child of the Van Alstyne Elementary School B.R.I.D.G.E. class.

“BRIDGE is a new class this last year that is an acronym for building responsible and independent students who develop and gain skills to excel,” Sevarino said. “In BRIDGE class, all fifth graders completed a community service outreach.”

The community service outreach project for the class involves students learning through participation in a larger effort in coordination with their fellow classmates. Sevarino said the community outreach assignment is “a project-based learning unit where they had to research any local or global charity that they would like to help.”

The students were to research a charitable community-based cause in which they would first seek approval after researching and drafting a proposal for the project, which outlines the group’s reasons why the cause merits the efforts.

“They researched the charity, told why we needed to help out their charity of choice and devised a plan on how they would raise money for that charity,” Sevarino said.

From there, the project continued to the next stage, which involved reaching out to the community with the proposed project in the proper manner. Sevarino said the students advertised it and “then put it all in a multi-media presentation,” after which Sevarino said the students then took the proposal and presented it first to their fellow classmates. The level of involvement for the class did not stop there, as students were also involved in the project’s approval.

“Their fellow classmates had to use a rubric to grade them on,” Sevarino said. “The top presentations went to the next level where they competed in front of the whole fifth grade and were evaluated again using a rubric, and the winning group was the Meadowbrook Nursing Home (Project Based Learning).”

The fundraising effort was the first of its kind for Van Alstyne Elementary School,

“This is the first year all grade levels are participating in a community service outreach project,” Sevarino said. “Each grade level picks an organization and charity to help out.”

Sevarino said the school “feels like it is important for students to give back to our community.” The project does much more than raise needed funds for worthy causes — the project-based learning approach also builds the students’ skills by preparing proposals for involved projects as they learn how to achieve an end result through careful planning and execution.

“Having students participate in service projects helps to develop an increased sense of social responsibility and exposes students to different needs in the world,” Sevarino said.

The project helped the students build skills which will be used later in both the business and philanthropic areas of adult life and raised awareness for the students,

“I found that it really opened my students’ eyes and educated them on the different needs locally and globally,” Sevarino said.

The school program was a success as the students presented the funds to Meadowbrook Care Center staff.