Local middle school gets creative to fund performing arts programs
Las Vegas Sun. Camalot Todd. February 27, 2019.

From circus performers fluttering through the air to folklorico dancers twirling in time to mariachi music, students at Knudson Middle School on Monday showcased skills they've learned on campus as a means to help pay for specialty programs.

About 200 students from Knudson, one of 12 magnet middle schools in the Clark County School District, participated in the third-annual gala to raise money that will supplement the school's magnet programs, which include visual arts, theater, music, dance and production.

While the district allots funding to magnet schools, it is used to hire staff but doesn't cover the costs of running the programs, said Gia Moore, director of Magnet Schools and Career and Technical Academies for CCSD.

"Performing arts programs are very expensive to run because you're talking about set design and those kinds of things. All those required materials are very expensive," Moore said. "The majority of schools, if not all of our schools, can't support their magnet programs based on the budget alone. They have to be creative."

Knudson Principal Lezlie Koepp began the fundraising event for this reason. She grew up near campus near Eastern and Sahara avenues but moved to Summerlin as she advanced through her career.

"Growing up here, we didn't have the resources that I can give my children. So, if my children want to go on a trip, I can cut a check,” she said. “The parents of my community can't necessarily do that ... schools are funded equitably, but then there's that separate piece with the fundraising."

The gala raises money through ticket sales and silent auctions, and the funds go directly to the students who decide how to spend the money.

The first gala raised $6,000, which paid for new microphones.

Last year the event raised $4,000 for new lighting. This year, the school raised about $3,500 through the silent auction and ticket sales, but students are still deciding how to spend it, Koepp said.

"I want everyone to know how great these kids are because they work so hard and they're just so kind," she said. "Every year we have this, it has been so much fun."

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