Webster Stanley Auditorium project a testimony to grassroots fundraising

Embarassing. Depressing. Worn out. That's how people used to describe the Webster Stanley Middle School auditorium.

"There had not been any investment into the facility - there were so many seats that were unusable and the place itself needed obvious work," says Cathy Scherer, who as a new parent to the school's Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) in 2013, saw a diamond in the rough.

Members of the Webster Stanley Middle School PTO auditorium fundraising committee include, pictured back row, left to right: Kim Burns, Eric Britz, Phil Marshall and Samara Hamze; front, left to right: Leigh-Ann Lethco, Cathy Scherer and Jen Norden.

She believed the $175,000 price tag to renovate the auditorium was attainable. She assembled a fundraising committee to spread the word and established a fund with the Foundation to help out.
The Oshkosh Area School District agreed to pay half of the cost of renovation, leaving $87,500 to raise.

It started with seed money from the family of Kim Kucksdorf, a dedicated chorus teacher at the school and in the district for 19 years, who died in 2011. What happened next is what Principal Phil Marshall describes as a "testimony to grassroots fundraising."

The outreach was broad-based using school, online, print and social media. It encompassed chorus, band and orchestra concerts, participants of a golf outing, the PTOs of feeder schools and a group of interested residents and alumni. The fundraising was highlighted by an email blitz campaign that sought to raise $11,018 on Nov. 18, 2014. The solicitation succeeded, raising $19,000 in 24 hours.


"STUDENTS, FAMILIES, STAFF, ALUMNI AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF OSHKOSH AND BEYOND WERE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTRIBUTING TO THE SUCCESS OF THIS FUNDRAISER." – Phil Marshall, principal at Webster Stanley Middle School



Through hundreds of small gifts - more than half of all contributions were between $5 and $200 - the goal was met, and exceeded.

"Webster Stanley Middle School's poverty level is the highest of all middle schools in Oshkosh at 62 percent," Marshall says. "Despite those odds, families and friends came together to support the fundraiser."

Scherer says the committee continues to fundraise for the remaining $5,000 for the addition of a hearing loop, which will benefit those in the audience with hearing loss.

The community will come together in the newly renovated space for the school's 60th anniversary celebration in fall 2015.

"I'm proud that we were able to get this done and improve conditions for the students and staff," Scherer says.

Support future projects at Webster Stanley elementary or middle school with a gift to the Webster Stanley Fund

 

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