A course entitled "Leadership 101" was offered during the 2004-2005 school year as an adjunct to the Bear Fever project. Students explored the characteristics of leadership, practiced their skills, and developed projects to enhance the community/school projects already in existence as well as explored other ideas for additional projects.
After the bears hit the streets, we looked for other individuals and artists interested in creating posters of the bears, mugs, t-shirts, a coffee table book-memorabilia that helped to celebrate the project as well as create further positive energy within the community and perhaps opportunities to raise funds for activities, groups, or individuals within the community. In some cases, these types of ideas took additional funding to actualize.
Bear Fever began officially on January 19, 2004, at Boyertown's annual Progress Dinner, held at La Massaria at Bella Vista Golf Course where two prototype fiberglass life-sized "raw" (undecorated) bears were introduced to the community. They were then placed in the hands of a local artist and retired art teacher and current art instructor at Boyertown High School and their student apprentices who turned the fabrications into pieces of art.
On May 1, 2004, at Boyertown High School's annual Arts Expo, the two bears-fully fashioned-were introduced to the community and artists and sponsorships were sought for 30+ additional bears from the business community, civic organizations, individuals, and the other elementary and junior high schools within the district.
A year later at Boyertown High School's Arts Expo 2005, the collection of Bear Fever bears was on parade for the community, and the Bear Fever project's initial phase concluded.
I have no doubt that in bringing together the assorted groups within our community-young and old-the project helped to create the synergy toward building a better Boyertown and generate appreciation and interest in the arts and the area's fine artists.
At the time, the organization Building a Better Boyertown was seeking to generate and coordinate projects; our community was poised for projects like these as witnessed by the support, praise, and success of some of the school/community art-related projects and businesses that have subsequently come alive in Boyertown.
"Build it and they will come" served as a theme for our project: we invited people to work together, have fun, and create a better community; and they gladly served their turn with joy. We believe Bear Fever resonated with our community's need to come together for good cause.
We realized success through media attention, notes of thank you to one another, a beautiful collection of sculptures, and a flurry of additional projects like posters, mugs, T-shirts, coaster sets, puzzles, and bear hunts which have "spun off" from our initial bear sculpture project and continue our mission ad infinitum.