By CHRISTINA WOOD
Of the Baker City Herald
The children of South Baker Elementary were singing only two songs Tuesday morning: the Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle and the Bologna Song. Both were in honor of the visit of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, delivering special news to the students.
The South Baker kindergarten classes of Karen Zimmer and Fawn Robertson were selected as finalists from the state of Oregon for a nation-wide contest.
The grand prize: to be featured in a new Oscar Mayer television commercial.
If the South Baker entry is picked for the commercial, the school will received the grand prize of $500,000 for its music program. South Baker joins 49 other states and the District of Columbia for the chance to win the School House Jam competition.
For their efforts in the state-wide competition, the students earned the school's music program a check for $10,000. All of the kindergarten students received a certificate, a wienerwhistle, a soft Wienermobile toy and other promotional items as well as an inside tour of the Wienermobile parked in the school playground. Students in the three other classes entered in the contest received certificates and stickers.
Music teacher Judy Trohkimoinen was very proud of her students. She received the literature on the contest last year and decided to enter only the four lowest grades, kindergarten through third grade.
She said she learned that most other schools entered only their older students, forgetting that the original commercial with the Bologna Song featured very small children singing the trademark jingle.
andquot;We were in the middle of our World's Largest Concert,andquot; Trohkimoinen said. The students had only one day to rehearse the songs before they were videotaped. She recalled their efforts as andquot;fresh and enthusiastic.andquot;
Principal Pat Braswell said the students' efforts were both andquot;remarkableandquot; and andquot;outstanding.andquot;
andquot;I've been in school forever,andquot; he added, andquot;and this is the biggest celebration.andquot; He showed both the oversized presentation check and the standard andquot;realandquot; check for $10,000 to all the students.
Braswell is famous for challenging his students to gather non-perishable food items for the local food bank during a drive last year. When the children responded by filling three barrels for the Scouting for Food Drive, Braswell kept his word and kissed two piglets, Petunia and Penelope.
He said winning the money for the school music program beat kissing pigs anytime.
Trohkimoinen said the money will be used to purchase a new piano for the school with any leftover funds used to get new music technology such as computer programs and instruments as well as music teaching programs.
She had 46 of the kindergarten students present at the assembly go on stage and sing their winning entry. They then went outside and toured the 27-foot long Wienermobile with the andquot;bun roof.andquot;
After the tour the students broke for lunch in the cafeteria: hot dogs and mini-corn dogs, of course.
The promotional car was driven by two andquot;hotdoggers,andquot; Nannette Bebermeyer and David Eaton. The two graduated from college last year and were given the keys to the vehicle to drive for one year around the country. The Wienermobile is one of a number of such vehicles that are identical except for their specialized license plates. They are used to promote the company's trademark meat products.
There are video screens inside to run informational tapes about the company's products and Eaton said there was a andquot;watchdog camandquot; in the rear of the bus.
andquot;So we don't scratch our buns,andquot; he said.
All of the entering classes had their picture taken in front of the Wienermobile and the photographs will be used to make a bulletin board to help the 285 students of South Baker remember the day the Wienermobile visited.
Zimmer said her students really enjoyed themselves and were pretty proud of themselves too.
Trohkimoinen said she was pleased that so many parents attended the assembly with their children since the event was kept andquot;under wiener wrapsandquot; until May 16 because the school didn't have room for all the people who might wish to attend.
She added that the community had been very supportive of the school and it's music program.
andquot;Who'da thunk it modest little Baker,andquot; Trohkimoinen said. She added that opportunities were out there for creative funding of school programs, andquot;people just have to be aware of the opportunities.andquot;
andquot;Hotdoggerandquot; Bebermeyer agreed and added that andquot;ten thousand dollars for a music program goes a long way.andquot;