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For his senior project, Sam Churchill puts together an unprecendented event

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Sam Churchill has organized 'Play-A-Thon,' a fundraiser for the school's performing arts department set for Friday.

The performing arts department at Newberg High School is a close-knit bunch, with plenty of opportunities to bond and collaborate throughout the school year. One of those opportunities is a trip to Disneyland, where the entire department travels to Southern California for a few days.

That trip can be expensive, though, as one would expect. So for his senior project, Sam Churchill decided to organize a fundraiser. At first he didn't know what, specifically, would bring in donations.

""It started when I was talking with Mr. (Joel) Tanner, the band teacher," Churchill said. "Initially it was a fundraiser for Disneyland – we're having a trip coming up in April. The idea was to perform for 12 straight hours – the first time this has been done."

Thus, the "Play-A-Thon" was born. For 12 consecutive hours on Friday, starting at 8 a.m., students from the NHS band, orchestra, choir and theater department will perform in three-hour blocs on the stage at Drea Ferguson Auditorium. It is an open-door event for people to attend without tickets and performing arts students will be sprinkled throughout the school practicing their art.

The stage will constantly be occupied, which Churchill said has never happened for 12 consecutive hours before.

"Our goal is for something to be happening on stage from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on that Friday," he said. "There will be a performance of some sort on stage at all times and throughout the building there will be different sectionals for people to come and work on their skills."

Churchill is a self-described "band kid" who plays the trumpet. He figured this event would be a great way to showcase the program he is part of while raising money for it. The money he is able to collect from local donors in promoting the event will pay for the event itself, for the Disneyland trip and hopefully have some left over to give back to the program.

The event will also be live-streamed on YouTube – another first for the performing arts department. There will be one-act plays, musical performances, other senior projects and more on display.

Some donors have already stepped up and given money to the program to help the event, including people from Drum Corps International and First Federal Bank in Newberg. Churchill said he is grateful for their support and encourages others to reach out to him via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they're interested in donating.

The event will not go on as long as originally planned, but it will make some history in the halls of NHS.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do and Mr. Tanner originally suggested we do something for 24 hours straight," Churchill said with a laugh. "When I went to people to ask about that they straight up told me it wasn't going to happen, but we worked it out to be able to do 12 hours. It's something that has never happened before and includes a lot of experimentation, and I'm excited for it."


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