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Lawrence school district teachers and staff took to the stage Friday night to dance, sing and make jokes — some of it tinged with political flavor — during the 24th annual Lawrence Schools Foundation Follies at Liberty Hall.
"It's a great time," Superintendent Rick Doll said. "A great cause, raising some money, having fun."
The Follies is an annual event to benefit the school foundation, which provides grants to fund innovative teaching programs in the district and to fund recognition awards for outstanding teachers in Lawrence schools.
Susan Esau, executive director of the foundation, said this year's program was on target to meet or exceed the goal of raising $30,000.
Doll himself took part in the fun, appearing first in costume with a space helmet covering his face during a parody of the French techno-rock group Daft Punk.
Later, in a sort of stand-up routine with master of ceremonies Hank Booth, Doll noted that most of the teachers may not have been happy about being there because they had had to work Friday to make up for one of this year's four snow days.
"Are you sure there won't be a fifth snow day?" Booth asked. "The Legislature could add to that."
"There's a couple of things, Hank, that I don't even try to predict anymore," Doll responded. "One is Kansas weather. Number two, the Kansas Legislature."
Another favorite target of satirical humor during the show was the new online testing system known as KITE, developed by Kansas University's Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, which frequently crashed or seized up when it was first launched in March, creating headaches for teachers and students alike.
One skit was called "Quail Run Learns to Fly a Kite," a parody on a teacher training seminar about how to administer the new KITE system. As dancers on stage scurried around with small kites that would never quite lift into the air, the narrator would describe how the kites were supposed to work, until suddenly the teachers and kites would unexpectedly freeze in place.
"Apparently we've been hit by distributed denial of services," the narrator said. "I'm told that KU is working on it."
"You know, no one ever hacked a Big Chief tablet or a number-two pencil in my day," Booth quipped, to loud applause. "And if that shows my age, then by golly so be it."
But there was also plenty of serious talent on display, including a strong blues ballad from Lawrence High School's Dawn Tallchief, a Led Zeppelin tribute from Free State High School's David Ludwick and David Reber, with special guest Martin Moore.
Esau said that while the event is staged as a fundraiser, it's also about giving educators a chance to show off and have fun.
"It is absolutely more about teachers having a good time," she said.