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Dancing with the Barton Stars
Participants approach Tuesdays show with a few jitters, but still having fun
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“Dancing with the Barton Stars” is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Barton Community College fine arts auditorium. The cost to attend is $5. To order tickets to the main event, contact Barton’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Office, 620-792-9391. Tickets also will be available at the door.

 It’s almost show time. Five pairs of local celebrities, who have been polishing their moves for the past two months, will hit the stage dancing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as the main attraction of “Dancing with the Barton Stars.” Their stage is the Barton Community College fine arts stage and their goal is to raise funds and awareness for renovating the college’s 40-year-old Fine Arts Auditorium.
 In addition to practicing their dance steps, they have been pounding the pavement and in some cases social networking online to garner votes in the form of dollars for their cause.
 Dancers are Lynda Jamison and Mark Mingenback, Jan Westfall and Dr. Carl Heilman, Rachel Mawhirter and Steve Webster, Melanie Calcara and Dan Heath, and Allene Owen and Jo Harrington. Since they are not seasoned dancers, they have been receiving instructions from Barb’s School of Dance, Dance by Design and Just Dance.
 Jamison said she campaigned by sending letters to friends, businesses and co-workers. “I made a little stick figure at the top with the words, “See Lynda. See Lynda Dance,” and that went very well,” she said.
 She and her partner Mark Mingenback have been taking lessons from Lindsay Feil of Barb’s School of dance. “It’s all brand new to us,” Jamison said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, and a lot of practice. Mark has been a real trooper and I have, too. I keep coming back for more practice.”
 Jo Harrington, Barton math instructor, created a social media page to get the word out. “It got a lot of people checking it out,” he said. But he added, “My partner Allene’s passion is infectious. She was out with a sign peddling on Main Street to get votes.”
 Jan Westfall and her partner Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman, instructed by Lee Ann Bashor of Dance by Design, have worked around meetings and travel schedules to make time to practice. “It’s been fun,” Westfall said. “We’re good to go and we’re having a really good time.”
 More than that, it’s for a good cause, she said. “The main thing is to raise money for the fine arts renovation. I was a student out there 40-some years ago and we didn’t even have trees and sidewalks. So I’m pretty impressed that I was asked to support the college in a small way with dancing.”
 Each of the dancers will be collecting votes until 5 p.m. Monday, when they turn in their money with hopes of winning the competition. However, audience members will still have a chance to cast their votes for their favorite dancers after watching them dance at “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday night. All of the money collected through votes will go toward the Fine Arts Renovation Project.
The cost to attend “Dancing with the Barton Stars” is $5 per person with proceeds going to the renovation project. To order tickets to the main event, contact Barton’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Office, 620-792-9391. Tickets also will be available at the door.
 “It’s going to be an evening that Great Bend won’t forget,” said Darnell Holopirek, Barton’s Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, working with the Barton Foundation to sponsor this event. “Each set of dancers will dance as they’ve been practicing for almost two months. They have their music, dance and costumes all lined up.”
Barton students will provide additional entertainment, including a violinist, Hilltop Singers and some student dance performances. Jemelle Holopirek of KAKE-TV and Scott Donovan of Eagle Radio will be emcees for the evening, and Miss Kansas Lauren Werhan will make an appearance sponsored by Adams Brown Beran and Ball.
 Jemelle recently attended a real behind-the-scenes “Dancing with the Stars” in California so she will bring a little of Hollywood to the Barton event, Holopirek said. Miss Kansas will talk about how important it is to have a fine arts program in a community and she will perform a ballet, which is the talent that helped her win her title, Holopirek added.
 “This event is all about awareness,” Holopirek said. “The Barton Foundation will be doing some private fund-raising for the renovation project, but this event will raise seed money.”
 Holopirek wants the community to know how important it is to update the Fine Arts Auditorium. “Status quo isn’t good enough,” she said. “If we’re going to retain our theatre and music students and get new students, we’ve got to do something. At a time when some colleges have decided to drop their programs, we’re going to be aggressive and progressive by upgrading ours.”
 The event will be a time for Barton students to show their talent and at the same time help the fund-raising effort by ushering for the main event and serving the VIP Dinner earlier in the evening. Holopirek said community members had the opportunity to make reservations for the dinner for $50 per person, and 69 will be coming out for the elegant dinner in the Shafer Gallery, before going to their reserved seats in the auditorium for the show. All proceeds will go to the renovation project.
 “We’re here for the students, to teach them,” Holopirek said. “Whether they want to go into performing arts professionally, or just enjoy it for a lifetime, they still need the post-secondary training.”
 The Barton Stars are doing their part to make that happen, even when they’re out of their element on the dance floor. “I’ve got to say, this is the furthest outside my box I’ve ever been in my life,” said Jamison, a former Barton employee.
“I love the college. It’s been great to me, so I’m glad I can give back. It doesn’t hurt to step outside your comfort zone.” 
For more information on “Dancing with the Barton Stars,” go to