In the fall of 1967, a group of Osseo teachers began working on the creation of a “variety show” to accomplish two goals:
(1) raise money for scholarships for Osseo Senior High students (the only Senior High in the District at that time) going on to college; and
(2) provide an opportunity for teachers, new to both District 279 and to teaching, to meet their peers that worked elsewhere in the district.
For a couple of years prior to that time, the District experienced incredible growth, with over 200 new teachers hired each year!
From his experience performing in the “Blackboard Revue” while teaching choral music in Virginia, MN, music teacher Duayne Malewicki brought the idea of a similar variety show to a group of Osseo teachers. There was no lack of interested hams that first year, but many staff members were skeptical that this idea would be successful year after year. Now, here we are in 2020, our 53rd year of performing and raising scholarship dollars in our community.
More ideas were thrown into the wastebasket than were actually used in that first show
The name Wastebasket Revue was coined at a writing meeting of 15-20 interested teachers, because more ideas for skits and songs were thrown into the wastebasket than were actually used in that first show.
The musical group Swingin’ Educators’ name was also coined by the committee that first year. The group was patterned after Johnny Mann’s “Young Americans” who appeared in a weekly TV variety show, wearing white pants and sweatshirts, singing both popular songs and standards as well as folk songs and patriotic music. The Swingin’ Educators also wore white pants the first two years, and orange sweatshirts the first year were replaced with lime green sweatshirts the second. Their ‘outfits’ changed pretty much every year after that.
In 1968, that scholarship amount could carry a student through North Hennepin Community College for a year!
To keep the show going the group needed ‘seed money’, so the writers decided to sell “shares” for the third show. Nearly everyone who participated in the first two years purchased shares at $5.00 each. These were all re-paid in full from the box office receipts that year, and a board of directors was established. The board held back enough money so that the next year’s show could be launched, but it gave the rest away in scholarships. There were three or four $100-$300 scholarships awarded each of those first years. In 1968, that scholarship amount could carry a student through North Hennepin Community College for a year!
The theme of the first show was Miss Newteach, with the title role played by Judy Nelson. Included in that first show was Superprof, a character designed to show how an experienced teacher can give a new teacher lots of help. Some of the staff who started Wastebasket Revue way back then are still active members in the Revue.
Cast and Support
Employees of the District (past and present) and their spouses are encouraged to join the Revue
Auditions for Swingin’ Educators were not held for the first five years, since there was plenty of space on the Osseo Junior High stage. Those first few years, everyone played a variety of parts because all available bodies were needed. However, when nearly 90 singers jammed the stage during the following years, auditions soon became standard policy. As the Revue matures, it is becoming increasingly important to recruit new cast members Employees of the District (past and present) and their spouses are encouraged to join the Revue. Community members are welcome as well! There are many opportunities to join the fun, both on and off stage.
Each year, approximately 300 staff members from all areas of the District – teachers, administrators, secretaries, paraprofessionals, custodians, cooks – participate in producing the Revue. They write skits, build sets or make costumes, sing or dance, work sound or lights. Throughout these, and many other activities required to make the Revue happen, this group of dedicated people have a little fun.
- The writing committee starts to create a theme and script in October.
- The Swingin’ Educators and the dancelines begin practicing in January.
- The rest of the cast usually begins practicing in February.
- Our band is so talented, they don’t need to practice until April.