A North Codorus Township church congregation is going to help the York City School District get its plan for an arts-themed magnet school off the ground.

Members of Grace Fellowship Church have volunteered at the district's Ferguson school for eight years to help fourth-grade students produce performance assemblies, said Pastor Bob Tome.

This year, the congregation is donating at least $2,000 to cover the cost of royalties for the "Seussical Jr." musical, which will be produced and performed by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in Ferguson's science, technology, engineering and math program.

"This production doesn't cost the school district a dime," Tome told the York City School Board on Wednesday. "Our goal is to bring the arts back into the York City School District."

Performances are scheduled for May 16 and 17 next year at William Penn Senior High School, he said.

Roughly 100 students will participate in a variety of roles, including as actors, costume designers, sound and light technicians, graphics artists and promoters. They'll work on the production for about an hour a week at the end of a school day.

Tickets will cost about $5, and the proceeds will go back to the district to help it create an arts-themed magnet school in the next academic year, Tome said.

The goal: Magnet schools -- which offer students specialty classes as well as regular academics -- are one element of the district's financial recovery plan that's become known as the internal transformation model. Eventually, district officials are hoping, the magnet schools might attract tuition-paying students from other districts.


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Next year, district officials hope to launch two magnet schools, one for the arts and another that would expand Ferguson's science, technology, engineering and math program, also known as STEM.

"This is a head start," said Michael Miller, the school board's vice president. "It's a wonderful opportunity for us to show the parents in the community what the school board is about to do through the recovery plan."

Tome said he's hoping the musical will serve as a recruiting tool for the district, which is trying to win back as many charter-school students as possible.

The congregation is looking for skilled volunteers to coach students in their various roles.

To get involved, contact Tome at tomeb@graceyork.com.

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.