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Community Coalition proposes annual May Day Parade

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By Lisa Seiser

Lake Geneva Regional News

Behind a focus to involve students and the community in creative arts, music and dance, plans are in the works for a May Day Parade through the streets of Lake Geneva.

Members of the Health Communities/Healthy Youth Coalition presented a plan at the Lake Geneva Area Elementary (Joint 1) School Board meeting April 8 that proposed an annual parade to involve members of the community and children.

Terri Robert, committee chairperson of the "May Day Masquerade Parade of the Puppets 2004: Celebrate Life as One," said there would be a different theme each year.

The 2004 event would include larger-than-life puppets and theatrical presentations, Robert said.

Project Chairperson Liz Haseley said the event will be for all ages.

"This is an event for small kids all the way up to adults," she said. "There is something for everyone to work on together."

The event is not just for the "artistically and theatrically gifted" youth and adults, she said.

"This will teach a lot of kids that they do have creative abilities," Haseley said. "This is going to be fun and artistic, and something that will carry on year after year."

Although the event is in its early stages of preparation, workshops are planned for Monday afternoon and evenings.

According to a flier, creation of the puppets and the planned projects will begin in June and run throughout the 2003-04 school year.

The first May Day Parade and theatrical presentation is scheduled for May 1, 2004.

Lake Geneva Area (Joint 1) Schools Director of Pupil Services and HC/HY Board President Surita Hall-Smith said the event is an effort to involve children and the community in positive initiatives.

The parade idea is from the Search Institute in Minneapolis and has proven to have a large impact on how the community looks at the external assets from youth programs.

The coalition initiative was created in 1999, and in Nov. 2000 more than 150 members of the community attended a meeting about the coalition.

The coalition focuses its attention on the developmental assets that are identified to help students stay away from risky behaviors.

The committee conducted a survey of Lake Geneva Middle School students in 2002 to determine the internal and external assets of its students.

Now the effort is to improve the survey results in several of those asset categories.

Hall-Smith said one of the external assets the coalition wants to focus on is youth programs.

Student responses showed the lowest scores for youth programs, compared to the national survey.

She said the May Day Parade is a youth program that follows in the hopes and goals of the coalition.

The coalition will have to present its idea in front of the Lake Geneva City Council in order to hold the event on city streets.

Hall-Smith said she was unsure when the plan would be presented to the council.

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