A Night in Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for 7th year


By Dawn Hatfield


GREENVILLE — Jeremy Woodall had some big shoes to fill in taking on his first year of teaching at Greenville’s Career Tech building. Not only would he be in charge of multiple classes under the Supply-Chain Management program, but he would also assume the role of coordinator of the locally-famous A Night in Hollywood.

Woodall, a previous graduate of Greenville High School, was happy to accept the challenge. After spending the past several years in Oregon, he and his family followed roots back home when the GHS job opportunity arose. “I’ve worked in a lot of different business areas, so it makes sense to me to be able to share that experience with the kids. I’ve been an entrepreneur, worked for non-profits, and worked for the state. It’s been fun sharing a lot of those real-world examples with the students. That was really my heart in coming here — I wanted to be able to share real-world experience with the students.”

Woodall explained that as a first-year teacher and having no students with previous “Hollywood” experience due to the lapse of events during the COVID pandemic, “It’s been a little bit of an archaeological dig, looking back through old binders and folders of paperwork, thinking, ‘How do we want to do it this year?’”

“Historically, the event started as a BPA [Business Professionals of America] competition piece seven years ago,” Woodall added. “A big focus of BPA is supporting Special Olympics, so the group put together this night to celebrate the unique challenges and also the joy of adults or children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities [I/DD]. Most BPA chapters and regions are challenged with finding a way to raise funds for Special Olympics. We had four students who did a competition that went to Nationals, and when they got back, they decided to make it a regular event.”

When planning began in December, the threat of Omicron still loomed large, and the students had to be “intentionally nimble” with planning as Woodall put it. “We did not want to put this whole thing together and be unable to meet.”

The fundraising focus is streamlined into three areas: business and individual sponsors, artwork auction, and raffle donations. Woodall and his students were quick to point out how integral the community is in supporting the event.

According to OhioBPA.wordpress.com, “As part of the Virtual Awards Ceremony [in 2020] … Greenville High School was awarded the Volunteer Service Award for donating more than 5,500 volunteer hours and $10,000 to Special Olympics Ohio.”

Woodall continued, “I think in May is when the Special Olympics happen here at the high school. All my students participate in that, and we take a check [from A Night in Hollywood proceeds] and present it to the Special Olympics.”

“I have enjoyed helping expose my students to that world… if you don’t have somebody in your family who has special needs, that world — you don’t know what it’s like. You don’t know the challenges.”

Sue Huston from Darke DD visited the class during planning stages and brought in I/DD guests. “We did the visit with Sue … because a lot of my students don’t have anybody in their circle of influence to have those disabilities … and because we’re here to serve these folks.”

Mike Bowers, former mayor and Sam Plough (I/DD) co-hosted the red-carpet event. The Taiko drum group from Mississinawa Valley and the GHS Jazz Scene played before several speakers took the stage.

Woodall explained the night was really about the “handful of adults or children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who shared their talents with us… that’s kind of the real spotlight for us, to cheer them on.”

Matt Harrison, who is in his second term serving on Ohio DD Council and representing Darke County at the state level, said, “I have the honor of being the first individual from Darke County to serve on council. Council helps make laws and distribute money for various projects related to DD. If anyone has concerns to improve conditions in Darke County, Ohio, please come see me, and I will gladly pass them along to Council.”

Harrison concluded, “I have two more years in my seat [on Council]. At that time, I will relinquish my seat, and I would love it if one of my peers would continue to represent Darke County.”

Francisca Shellebarger, an artist who contributed artwork to the silent auction as well as a current Kroger employee, shared some of her background with the audience. “When I was a little girl in Haiti, I used to make art in my room just to have something to do. That’s how I fell in love with doing art. Keep moving, keep dreaming. Like my dream was to put my art out there… now I make and sell art, and I have business cards on the table… I used to be scared to do what I love because some people out there don’t really respect you for the disability you have; don’t let that define who you are.”

Addison Hart, one of the original four GHS students who launched the event said, “We started [A Night in Hollywood] my junior year, and we didn’t think it would be as impactful as it has been. Even though I have graduated and am in grad school right now, I am sure to make an appearance here every single year. I am really honored to be a part of that [legacy]. I thank everyone for continuing the love and support for this program.”

Cindy Rose, Darke County Special Olympics Director, is proud to continue the 43-year legacy of Darke County Special Olympics. “That’s what’s so amazing about this whole experience — it’s high school kids supporting our athletes… . It’s fulfilling for me to sit and watch all of it come together. I appreciate everyone coming and all the support. Just know that Darke County supports their Special Olympics program better than some of the bigger programs in the state. I try to emphasize that every year… it’s true; Darke County is amazing.”

Dawn Hatfield covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.

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