Bennett teacher, friends attend ‘HSM3’ premiere

From left, Karen Fitzgibbons, Tyler Sides, Marti Sides, and, in front, Hannah Densford, at the “High School Musical 3” event. (Photo provided by Karen Fitzgibbons)

A fourth-grade teacher working to keep in touch with her students at Bennett Elementary School won an opportunity to walk the red carpet and rub elbows with the stars of “High School Musical 3.”

Karen Fitzgibbons said her classroom’s favorite television shows seem to all be on the Disney Channel. When she began watching some of the shows, she enjoyed the “High School Musical” movies and other Disney shows.

“I just started watching some of their shows. One thing led to another, and I won a contest,” she said.

On the Disney Channel Web site, she entered a contest to win tickets to the new movie’s premiere in California.

“I was just on the Disney Channel Web page, and there was this ad that kept blinking. I just decided to enter it. I thought the kids would think that was pretty cool,” said Fitzgibbons.

Karen Fitzgibbons

Hometown: Big Spring
College: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wayland Baptist University, master’s degree in physical education from Texas Tech
Pets: Chocolate labs Diamond and Ranger

Fitzgibbons said she was notified by e-mail she was one of the winners in the contest.

“I did think that it was a prank, and so did everyone else. Miss Dillard said, ‘Are you sure this is for real?’” she said. Rhonda Dillard is the principal at Bennett.

Even though the contest reward was just for tickets to the show and did not include airfare or hotel accommodations, Fitzgibbons said she could not turn it down. She asked her next-door neighbor, 10-year-old Hannah Densford, to go with her, as well as friend Marti Sides, a curriculum technologist at Willow Bend Elementary School, and her daughter, Tyler, 12.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, go to a movie premiere. I didn’t care what movie, I just wanted to go,” she said. “There’s just something about being the first in the world to see it. And the cast was there, watching it with us. It was really, really cool.”

Although Fitzgibbons said she could see stars such as Zac Efron, she didn’t get to talk to him.

“He was so surrounded by bodyguards, I couldn’t get near him,” she said, but she said she gave a Bennett Elementary School t-shirt to another cast member from her classroom.

The group had a “girls trip,” which included visiting the spa in their hotel and getting their hair and nails done. They also spent a lot of time driving the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible and playing at the beach. Fitzgibbons said they all enjoyed visiting Disneyland as well, which was decorated for Halloween.

During the trip to California, Fitzgibbons blogged on the Bennett Elementary School Web site for her students about her adventures.

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