OSSEO, Minn. – The curtain opens with a landmark achievement at the Park Center Senior High School Auditorium, as the Wastebasket Revue variety show celebrates its 50th year, raising more than $1.1 million dollars in student scholarships.
A group of Osseo District 279 teachers began working on the creation of a variety show in 1967 to raise money for scholarships for college bound students. The production also started as a way to build camaraderie with other educators.
Nearly 300 teachers, custodians, principals, cooks, secretaries, educational support professionals, and administrators all participate in the show on a volunteer basis every year, taking to the stage for their students.
Wastebasket Revue founder and retired teacher Duayne Malewicki came up with the concept of the variety show fundraiser after a similar show in his former district of Virginia, Minnesota.
When he brought the idea to the Osseo District, the show took another turn when “Wastebasket Revue” was coined at a writing meeting after the teachers realized how many brainstorming ideas were thrown into the wastebasket than were used in that first show.
“We didn’t if there would be a second show, but there was, and another and here we are at 50 years, no one could have predicted this,” said Malewicki.
The musical group Swingin’ Educators name was also coined by the committee that first year. The five decades performing the show have brought many highlights from singing, dancing and skits, but Malewicki said no memory compares to helping students achieve their goals.
“Seeing the kids who win the scholarships and having them be successful, for many of them it was their only ticket to college, and we have heard that from some of them over the years,” said Malewicki. “That’s always the high point for me.”
Over the 50 years, 802 students have received scholarships, and another 18 students are expected to receive scholarships this year.
“It does make a big difference because you were part of that village that helped them to pursue more education,” said Mary Beth Wells, a retired teacher who has long been part of the show.
Osseo graduate Kevin Kling joined the cast to share his talents on opening night. Kling is a nationally renowned author, playwright and storyteller best known for his popular commentaries on National Public Radio.
The show runs April 20-23 and April 27-29 at Park Center Senior High School. You can find information on tickets and show times here.