New student support group to host Exam Jam

First Posted: 5/27/2009

PILOT MOUNTAIN A new grass roots effort is emerging at East Surry High School with a mission of enriching students lives through the support of arts and academics.
The East Surry Arts and Academics Team (ESAAT) is being structured as an independent support group composed of parents, teachers and a student representative. A steering committee has been formed and East Surry junior Taylor Mills has been named as the groups first student representative.
This came about because of several parents who are on the school improvement team, explained ESAAT steering committee representative Debbie Garris. We were aware of funding cuts, particularly for the arts, and we wanted to do more in both arts and academics. But we realized that with budget cuts, the funds just werent available.
Our whole premise, added steering committee member Tana Mills, was to be able to fund things in these areas at school that our kids normally dont get to do, things that will enrich their lives.
According to Garris, preliminary plans include bringing an array of cultural and academic activities to students. The common goal of activities would be to expose students to information and experiences intended to widen their horizons and help them in making choices about the future.
Some projects being looked at for the future include bringing in speakers from diverse professional fields, sponsoring SAT preparatory courses, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) information sessions, transition programs for rising freshmen, green engineering and off-campus trips such as chartered bus trips to arts performances.
In todays environment, Garris explained, professions are rapidly changing and becoming more diverse. The more exposure they have to different professional areas, the better they will be able to make good decisions about their future.
And we want them to have access to the arts, Garris continued, and to be able to explore the creative areas of their lives that are necessary for them to reach their full potential as a person.
Aware that the ambitious agenda will require funding, steering committee members have organized a first fundraiser. A downtown concert, dubbed Exam Jam, will take place this Monday evening from 6:30-9:30 at the Depot Street stage area. Exams will begin at the school later in the week.
The concert will feature a quartet of local Christian rock bands. Performing will be Stones Throw, For I Desire Mercy, One Accord and Safe in the Arms. Admission for the evening will be $5 with proceeds to benefit ESAAT programs.
Were just getting started, Mills said, and we wanted to have our first fundraiser before the summer.
Exam Jam will be primarily for the kids, Garris added, but everyone is invited to come out for a fun night of good music. This will allow us to let students know what were about and to have a good time. The bands are made up of talented young people from our area and 3 of the 4 groups have East Surry graduates in them.
Concessions will also be available, including hot dogs and funnel cakes, and raffles will be held throughout. A main raffle will feature a first prize of a mini-fridge, while other prizes will include an iPod Shuffle, tanning sessions, videos and movie tickets.

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