Dancing with the Stars GETS SCHOOLED debuts Friday

Mohawk Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars GETS SCHOOLED will debut its second season on Friday, May 18 when seven high school teams hit the stage for a two-performance fundraiser that wraps up on Saturday, May 19 season in a brand-new location at Calhoun Performing Arts Center. Limited ticketing remains available at www.gordoncountyunitedway.org and at the United Way of Gordon County’s office on King Street.

The show repeats last year’s reinvention of the original event by featuring high school contestants, but it is lucky number seven for the historical fundraiser, which has channeled close to a million dollars into the community. Mohawk Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars GETS SCHOOLED will benefit United Way of Gordon County exclusively, with all revenues ultimately hitting the coffers of its member agencies, except a fund reserved for scholarships awarded to the dancers. Every student that finishes the show will receive a $500 scholarship and the top two teams—or four students—will receive larger awards. The first-place team will receive $1,000 per student; the second-place team will receive $750 per student and the third-place team will receive $600 per student.

“Mohawk Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars has been a tremendous success and adding the ‘GETS SCHOOLED’ feature last year to introduce student dancers definitely brought renewed energy and interest to an already wildly-popular fundraiser,” explained Vickie Spence, Executive Director of United Way of Gordon County. “Maintaining that energy is essential to its continued success and moving to the Calhoun Performing Arts Center will allow for larger crowds and enable us to offer a discounted student show on opening night.”

“This year, as always, a planning committee has been hard at work for months putting the show together, but I turned over most of the responsibility to Ashley Goble, Director of Communications and Community Involvement for United Way of Gordon County, and she took those reins into her very capable hands to build a new level of excitement into the show,” Spence continued. “I am very proud of this event and its history, but I think Ashley has put a whole new spin on things and I can’t wait to see how it plays out on stage.”

Goble has been working with a planning committee that consists of Andy Baxter with Andy Baxter Photography, Kristy Brown with Greater Community Bank, recently retired educator Michelle Frix Ward, Joni Harbin with the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce and Calhoun-Gordon Council for a Literate Community, Dr. Amy Parker with Gordon County Schools and Vickie Spence with United Way of Gordon County. This committee is a hands-on group of local professionals who are fully committed to the success of the event.

“Mohawk Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars has always been a very special event for United Way of Gordon County, but there is just something about the energy of DWTS GETS SCHOOLED that puts a different twist on the event,” explained Goble. “We really spend a lot of time throughout the year as a committee to plan, prepare, and put the whole show together. There are also several people who aren’t on our committee that we really appreciate because, without those people, the show would not be successful!”

“My most favorite part of this year’s show will be the group dance. The energy in the dance is something different that I don’t think we have seen in the show before,” she continued. “Michelle Frix Ward has choreographed a really cool show that is just electric! The music and choreography really resonate with the students. Michelle is a former educator, so she can connect with the students in ways that others cannot.”

Several committee members—Andy Baxter, Kristy Brown and Michelle Frix Ward—have competed in previous shows. Joni Thomas Harbin will return as event emcee. Michelle Frix Ward has volunteered her time and talents by providing choreography services while Andy Baxter Photography has donated his time to offer free photography for all the dancers and for full event promotion.

Dr. Amy Parker, Director of Communications for Gordon County Schools and CEO of the Gordon County College & Career Academy, has been actively involved on the planning committee and is excited about the upcoming event. “We are excited about opportunities this event gives students across Gordon County. As reigning champions, Gordon Central’s Ryan Morrell and Elizabeth Dutch set the standard high in 2017, but with the extreme talent we have in all our schools, it is certain that this year’s competition will not disappoint,” she said.

“While the competitive nature of the event will ensure excellence from all the dancers on the stage, we cannot overlook the tremendous amount of work these young people will put into fundraising for the United Way of Gordon County as a part of their efforts,” she continued. “They are each experiencing the feeling of giving back to their community and making new friends in the process.”

Darlene Wright will assist with ticketing and production details while Ben Riley, a Calhoun City Schools Special Education teacher, will be responsible for sound and lighting. Montana Etheridge, owner of Corner Portfolio, will provide video service for feature clips shown throughout the event and a full-length video of the event in its entirety. Those videos will be available for purchase shortly after the show.

The planning committee is central to the success of the show, but the group that really matters consists of the fourteen students who will hit the stage to compete. Dancers, listed alphabetically, include Ned Abernathy, Haylea Graham, Drew Gravitt, Sarah Green, Lydia Jaime, Porter Law, Katlyn Lester, Ryan Morrell, Ivie Parker, Logan Parker, Cole Pelfrey, Ryan-Kelly Rule, Brannon Spector and Brianna Towers.

Ryan-Kelly Rule and Porter Law will open the show, followed by Sarah Green and Ryan Morrell and then Brianna Towers and Brannon Spector. Katlyn Lester and Ned Abernathy form the fourth team, followed by Lydia Jaime and Cole Pelfrey as the fifth team. Sixth and seventh teams are formed by Haylea Graham with Drew Gravitt, and Ivie Parker with Logan Parker.

Before showtime on for the May 19 finale, a private reception will be held at the STEM Lab near the theatre for the dancers and their families. The reception will be followed by red-carpet introductions from Trey Pierson and then the dancers will move into the theatre for live interviews filmed by Montana Etheridge. A team of three independent judges from outside Gordon County--Greg Blazer, Gary Jones and Andrea Pitts-- will score the dancers’ performances on Saturday night.

In order to increase the donations to United Way, the dancers have developed a new level of fundraising this year and guests should be prepared for a bucket brigade as they enter the venue. The mission of United Way of Gordon County is to accurately assess the needs of Gordon County and to mobilize available resources to meet these needs. All profits from the fundraiser will be used in Calhoun-Gordon County.