450 local high school students to sing, dance, collect food for the needy at Butler Showchoir Festival

Students and guest clinician to showcase talent Nov. 21 during 7 p.m. show open to the public

For Valerie Mack, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how many lives have been touched by her annual Butler Community College Showchoir Festival. Take this year for example. More than 450 students from 17 area high schools will come to the Butler campus Monday, Nov. 21 to pump up their vocal skills and choreography.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. With the assistance of guest clinician and nationally renowned composer, arranger, and choreographer John Jacobson – best known perhaps for his viral “Double Dream Hands” video on YouTube and subsequent media appearances on shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Ellen Show” – Mack and her crew of show choir students, The Headliners, also hope to touch the lives of children in need this year.

“Our festival theme is ‘Change the World’ and we are hoping to change our own little corner to make a difference in the lives of children this holiday season,” Mack said.

“I am so excited about coming to Kansas to be a part of the 35th annual Butler Showchoir Festival,” Jacobson said. “The idea of high school and college kids getting together to share their music and help out some less fortunate people by collecting canned goods, winter clothing and toys for needy children is a combination that cannot fail, a combination of which  I am extraordinarily proud to be a part. This is kind of effort that makes Kansas, and for that matter America, great!”

Collecting food and goods for needy children

Partnering with Wichita-based His Helping Hands community service ministry, the Showchoir Festival is doubling as a donation collection project called “Double Dream Vans” to help gather cans of food, winter clothing, toys, pillows, blankets and more. Mack hopes to fill two vans completely on Monday, to bring them to Wichita for distribution Tuesday.

“We’re here to meet basic needs in the community and at this time of year, there are lots of needs out there,” said Paul Dohm, executive director of His Helping Hands, Inc. “Our motto is ‘We help people help other people.’ That’s exactly what these students at Butler are doing. We can ensure the things they collect will be given to poor, needy families. We really appreciate them helping us help others.”

With Jacobson on board, this project seemed like a natural fit for the Showchoir Festival. Jacobson started a foundation called “America Sings!” in 1989 that is about kids singing for kids with needs. He has worked in soup kitchens and helped raise millions of dollars to feed hungry kids in America.

Illustrating Mack’s long history with Jacobson, The Headliners were at that first “America Sings!” event in 1989 and worked in a bread line in Washington D.C. with Jacobson

“I am a choreographer because of John,” Mack said. “He was one of my mentors early on.”

“It’s an excellent opportunity to spend the day with not only an accomplished clinician but a person who has dedicated their life to continuing and preserving the art of music in children’s lives,” said Butler Headliner Dakota Smith, who is a chair for the festival. “This experience with Mr. Jacobson will be educational and inspiring.”

To cap off the day of dancing and donations, the high school students and Headliners will perform a public concert at 7 p.m. in the Butler Theatre. Each of the area high schools and the Butler Headliners will perform one number and then come together in a mass number written by Jacobson, called “Touch the Future.”



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