Two sisters, just beginning their singing career.
Three hundred secondary school students, just beginning to fulfill their dreams of an education.
The sisters live in a small town in North Dakota. The 300 live in Rwanda and Burundi, the smallest countries in Africa.
A pair of amazing teachers and a dedicated mother-daughter team marshaled the energies and the enthusiasm of students at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, North Dakota, to bring the two sisters and the three hundred students together.
The two sisters—Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh—sing together under the name Tigirlily. They have a Facebook page, a YouTube following, and a burgeoning repertoire. The Bismarck Tribune carried a feature story about the girls and their music ambitions, and that sparked an idea for middle school teacher Fran Joersz.
For six years, Fran and her colleague Peggy Hoge, both Communications teachers, have mobilized students at Horizon Middle School to raise money for Every Child is My Child, a non-profit organization that provides secondary school scholarships to children in Rwanda and Burundi. The Horizon students have made pencil cases, jewelry, and tie-dye t-shirts—but this year they went big. They engaged Kendra and Krista in their mission and, together, staged a benefit for Every Child is My Child.
Tickets were $10 each. The Horizon Huskie Singers—the school’s show choir—opened the show, and Tigirlily performed solo renditions and musical duets for an hour and a half on the middle school stage.
Internal publicity was handled by two of the Horizon students, Halle Schereck and Taylor Pederson, who have worked on raising money for Every Child scholarships for three years now. These two 9th graders created a PowerPoint presentation about the Every Child scholars in Rwanda and Burundi and showed it to fellow students throughout the school. The message the girls delivered to their peers was simple: You can make a difference in a child’s life by giving the gift of education.
Artist Michelle Lindblom-Eggert (http://www.mick-art.com) and her daughter, McKenzie, designed both the tickets for the concert and the posters that students hung in the school and throughout the community. McKenzie also served as the official photographer for the event. When McKenzie was in middle school, Michelle spearheaded the tie-dye t-shirt project, and the mother-daughter team has remained dedicated to the Every Child mission ever since.
Ticket sales to parents of the choir members were brisk—parents always want to see their children perform. That the proceeds went for a good cause only increased the buy-in.
On the night of the performance, people flooded the school auditorium to listen first to the show choir and then to the lilting harmonies of the two sisters. When the concert was over, middle schoolers clustered excitedly around the two performers, who are only a few years older than they are, eager to pose for pictures with the duo and to take home autographed Tigirlily t-shirts. In the end, Horizon Middle School raised over $2000: enough to split with Tigirlily and still send 10 students to school for another year.
So what does it take to give the gift of education? A brilliant idea, a few dedicated adults, the energy of youth, and music—sweet, sweet music.
To learn more about Every Child is My Child, visit these sites: