West Michigan Student Showcase returns for 42nd year

The West Michigan Student Showcase has been a staple along the Lakeshore for nearly 42 years. This annual celebration showcases nearly 250 students from 35 different school districts throughout Muskegon, Ottawa, Oceana, Newaygo, and Mason counties. 
Carla Flanders
Students are selected by their respective schools in the competitive areas of Digital Media Arts, Literary Arts, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts, as well as the recognition areas of Academics and Athletics. Monetary awards are given in the competitive categories for first, second, and third place, including a Showstopper Award in the Performing Arts category.

Student Showcase will take place on March 15-16 at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Theatre. The show is open to students, parents, and the general public. Tickets will go on sale on Feb. 22.

This annual tradition began in the 1980s as a program of the Muskegon Chronicle/MLive. Throughout the years, the event has had several transitions. In 2012, the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) took over the event. 

Showcase executive producer

This year, Carla M. Flanders has been tapped to work with the Student Showcase team as the event’s executive producer.
The West Michigan Student Showcase will return to the Frauenthal Center in March. (Michelle Nickless Greer)
 “I am so excited to be part of this annual tradition,” says Flanders, CEO of CMF Marketing & Events. “Our schools are filled with so many talented students, and this event is a great way to bring them all together and show West Michigan how truly amazing and creative our students are.” 

Flanders’ background made her an obvious choice, says Randy Lindquist, MAISD superintendent.

“Flanders has a history of working on large-scale community events, including projects such as Grand Rapids ArtPrize venue events, Holland Tulip Time Festival, and the Muskegon Lakeshore Art Festival. Her combined knowledge of event production, marketing strategy, and fund development makes her a great fit to carry on the tradition of Student Showcase while helping it continue to flourish and grow for years to come,” Lindquist says. 

Each school that participates in the West Michigan Student Showcase has a school coordinator that works with the executive producer (Flanders) to get all of the pertinent information needed for students to participate. The school coordinator then forwards the information for each category to teachers within their own school. The teachers then help nominate students in each area.

“I will be working with the schools to assure they have the information needed to nominate students. As you can imagine, working with 30 different school districts and nearly 250 kids requires a high level of organization and communication,” Flanders says. “The former coordinator did a great job, so I definitely have some big shoes to fill. The good news is, the event has a team of volunteers that have been working with the show for many years. I will lean on their expertise to help guide me through the production portion this first year.”

Promotions and marketing

In addition to producing the event, she will also be focusing on promoting and marketing the event, keeping the website up to date, managing the social media pages, and being the go-to person for all communications with the school and the media. 

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity. I have a passion for producing community events, especially those that are centered around the arts, as demonstrated by my work with the Lakeshore Art Festival, Muskegon Arts & Culture Coalition, and ArtPrize,” Flanders says. 

Community events require lots of volunteers, and Flanders is extending an invitation to everyone to support the West Michigan Student Showcase.

“There are plenty of ways to get involved. This event could not happen without financial contributions from the community. It literally takes a village to put this show on. Financial donations will go toward production expenses, rentals, sound, lighting, and promotions. If you like to support local youth events and/or are passionate about the arts, this is a great way to give back. Additionally, hands-on volunteers are needed,” Flanders says.

For information, contact Flanders at 616-893-5459 or email showcase@muskegonisd.org. Click here for more details regarding sponsorship. For more general information, visit http://www.westmishowcase.org.
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.