Dakota Students Conduct Telethon to Benefit Disaster Victims

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014
By Nicole Tuttle, Voice Reporter

Instead of the conventional candy sale or canned food drive as a fundraiser, Dakota student leadership invited classrooms at the school to tune in to a telethon featuring improv comedy on March 20.

Student leadership is a class at Dakota High School in Macomb Township. Students must apply and obtain recommendations to be in the class, as it often requires participation in activities that go beyond a normal school day, teacher Melissa Belanger said.

“They have different events throughout the year,” she added. “For many events, the profits and proceeds benefit different charities.”

This year is the fourth that the student leadership class has hosted a telethon. Students selected the Disaster Relief at Work Foundation, or DRAW, as the beneficiary of this year’s telethon based on the recommendation of the Michigan Association of Student Councils, Belanger said.

“They help families experiencing disaster and offer relief, whether it is on the west coast where there are fires or tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes on the east coast,” she said.

The telethon was broadcast from the Dakota broadcast room in the school media center and shown only in Dakota classrooms. It was telecast every hour of the school day except fourth hour, with a broadcast running for approximately the first 10 minutes of each hour, Belanger said as in the past, the telethon automatically came on to classroom televisions; but now teachers make the choice whether or not to allow their classroom to tune in.

“Now it is more of a teacher classroom preference,” she said. “The teacher has to turn it on and want to participate.”

Entertainment during the telethon is up to the students, Belanger explained. In the past, students have used ideas such as singing, comedy, skits, interviews with special guests, and other entertainment.

William Servis, a 16-year-old sophomore at Dakota, said that the students chose to do improvisational comedy skits similar to the television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway” for the telethon.

“We also discuss what DRAW is and show clips of it in action,” he added.

Servis said that while only four members of the class of more than 20 students performed before the cameras, other students found ways to participate by keeping track of donations and related tasks.

“The class gives their money to a teacher and then they bring down the envelope,” Servis said. “We announce who is in the lead and who is winning.”

Teachers at Dakota had special envelopes to collect telethon donations from students, Belanger said.

The highest donating classroom at the end of the telethon received a prize, Servis noted.

Although the total amount donated was not available at press time, Servis said that the student leadership class was hoping to earn $4,000 for DRAW.