Enough online votes can be the difference between making-do and a new stage for Scenic Middle School's Drama Club.
The Central Point school is the only Oregon finalist in the "NBC's 'SMASH': Make a Musical Constructed by Lowe's" contest, and is competing against 30 middle and high school drama programs across the country. Each of the five schools with the most votes will receive a $3,000 Lowe's gift card to use toward construction of the school's performance space.
Scenic Drama Club Director David Gerten has seen many students grow in his 10 years serving the club. But the middle school's stage is 45 years old and showing its age.
"It's grown pretty successfully, but our stage — it's the original 1968 construction," Gerten said.
Zip ties and jury-rigging are all that keep the stage in use.
"Things are literally falling apart," he said.
Gerten applied after he received an email about the contest, and saw that the March 6 deadline was approaching fast.
"Of course everybody knows with the budget cuts, there's just nothing for extra programs," he said. "That was my thought, to revamp our stage."
The news that Scenic was a finalist came on Tuesday, when RaeAnn Christensen with local NBC affiliate KOBI contacted Gerten about the contest. Tuesday also was the first day voting was open to the public.
Gerten says that the club reaches students who don't fit the team sports mold who benefit from the teamwork and camaraderie involved in stage productions.
"They really have a neat outlet to explore the theater arts," he said. "I've seen it make a really big change in the lives of the students that have participated — which is why we do it."
He added that the largely self-funded club gets its revenue from ticket sales, and there's no participation fee. Gerten believes an improved stage will draw newcomers.
"Having a stage that we can utilize that's functioning, it really helps kids that are just starting into this," he said. "They really buy into it a lot more."
To vote, visit the contest website at www.makeamusical.org, select "Time to Vote" and choose Scenic Middle School. Voters are limited to one vote per person per day, and voting ends April 10.
Reach news clerk Nick Morgan at 541-776-4477 or by email at email@example.com.