Annie Camp Jr. High EAST Students Help Light Fire for Barbecue Contest


8/15/2013 4:20:39 PM

Jonesboro barbecue contest and music festival is quickly growing to exceed expectations with the help of some energetic junior high students.

The city of Jonesboro has been gearing up for what officials hope will become an annual barbecue contest and music festival. Now, with the help of some energetic junior high students, it's quickly growing to exceed expectations.
    The Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Fest, set for Nov. 6 in Downtown Jonesboro, was designed as a follow-up to the cooking contest that made its debut last year during the city's Sesquincentennial Celebration.
     “We've had a lot of interest from teams who are ready to come in and cook,” event coordinator Jack Turner said. “(And) we wanted to program a stage with music...but we had a 2.5-to-3-hour time slot we needed assistance on.”
     Enter a group of students from the Annie Camp Jr. High EAST Program. Ninth-grader Tori Shiers and several classmates had already approached teacher Chris Hicks about organizing a 1-day music festival to benefit a local nonprofit organization.
    “It was their idea,” Hicks said. “I told them to run with it. They wanted to help raise awareness and donations for a local cause, so we started meeting. They settled on CityYouth Ministries because that would give them a chance to directly impact other kids their own age.”

Seeking Help From the City
     After a couple of meetings the students decided to see if there was anything the city could do to help. One thing led to another, and soon the students were collaborating with barbecue organizers to merge the two ideas into one larger event.
     “They jumped at the chance to help and even asked about additional responsibilities like providing and working inflatables for younger kids, manning a booth to raise money for CityYouth, and helping out in general,” Turner said. “We thought it would be a boost for the festival and great experience for the group.”
      Mayor Harold Perrin stopped by to meet with the steering committee Wednesday to get a first-hand look at the students in action. Five students are spearheading the effort, but about 30 will be involved in the actual event, Hicks said.
      “I'm always impressed with the EAST program students, and this crew from Annie Camp is no exception,” Perring said. “We are always glad when we can reach out and partner with local schools. Its just part of building a stronger community.”
      The students are hoping the project will have a lasting impact such as subsequent classes continuing the partnership in future years.  The students are calling their project “Helping Hands -- Students Helping Students.”
      The EAST group will continue to meet with city representatives and other volunteers over the next several weeks in order to bring it all together.  One of the next steps will be finalizing the event logo and promotional materials, which students are creating with software available in their EAST classroom, such as Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator and Microsoft Publisher. The students will also create a television spot for the event, editing in Final Cut Pro and will shoot video and still photos of the setup and the event. Even the Sketchup experts in the class may find a way to contribute.
      Other elements of the festival are a 5K run, bounce houses and other attractions for children, and a booth that will take donations for CityYouth. The event itself will be free to attend.
      The AC EAST students are planning auditions for local and student bands who want to perform as opening acts for the other local bands during the festival.
      “This is going to be a great event,” Turner said.


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