Friends of Sumner’s Future launching fundraising campaign



SULLIVAN — Down the road, you may be able to own a piece of the existing Sumner Memorial High School.

Literally.

The Friends of Sumner’s Future has taken on the task of raising $2 million to pay for amenities at the new $44 million combination middle and high school to be constructed at the site of the current high school on Route 1 in Sullivan.

“The state doesn’t pay for everything,” said Michael Eastman, superintendent of Regional School Unit 24.

In June, taxpayers approved the project, most of which is funded by the state. Taxpayers also will contribute $820,400 toward the project, said Business Manager David Bridgham.

But even that doesn’t cover everything. School Board members felt the $820,400 tax contribution was enough to ask of residents, but they still wanted extras such as a concession stand and a sprint track that aren’t covered by tax revenue or state funding.

“A lot of these are bells and whistles, but this is what everybody else has,” said Sumner alumna Megan Moshier, who also serves as chairwoman for the 10-member Friends of Sumner’s Future. “We’re ready to compete at all levels.”

District officials plan to break ground on the new school in July. The existing school is expected to be demolished in August 2023 after students are attending classes in the new building.

Before demolition, the committee plans to auction off equipment and furniture such as lockers and chairs that will not be used in the new building. The sale is likely to include actual pieces of the current high school building, such as ceiling tiles and even the gym floor.

“I can’t tell you the number of people who have asked me what’s happening to the gym floor,” Moshier said.

Because of the interest, it’s possible that the gym floor will be broken up and sold, though the details on the number or size of pieces has yet to be determined.

The auction is but one of many pieces of the fundraising campaign being planned by the committee with help from Eastman and Bridgham.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” said Moshier.

Shortly after the committee formed in December, members sent out about 250 appeal letters to area businesses with which the district has had a relationship. Donations have already started to come in, with a list of donors posted on the district website being updated regularly.

Donors also have already promised to cover the costs of or raise the money for some of the big-ticket items on the want list such as a digital sign and equipment for a concession stand. Each of these is estimated to cost about $30,000, according to information provided by Bridgham.

Other items to be covered by fundraising include outdoor bleachers, landscaping, a sprint track, a field irrigation system, exterior field lights and an outdoor sound system, scoreboards, a batting cage and baseball dugouts.

For $10,000, a donor can name a classroom in memory of or in honor of someone. For $25,000, a donor can name a larger space such as the weight room. For $100,000 or more, a donor can name the gymnasium, library, auditorium or athletic fields.

Groups are welcome to work together to raise the funds necessary to name a classroom or larger space. An art auction is already being planned with a goal of raising the money to name the art room after former art teacher Pam Harmon. The committee has considered the idea of holding an alumni basketball tournament and is looking for someone willing to organize it with the potential of raising enough money to name a room.

While the committee needs big donors, Moshier said the group also hopes to involve people of more modest means through functions the members hope will be enjoyable. One of these is a lawn event being planned for this summer after the groundbreaking. Construction plans and information on school needs will be made available at that time in hopes of building excitement.

“That’s a time when a lot of alumni are going to be in the area,” said Moshier, adding the committee hopes to enlist their help.

Individuals, groups and businesses will be offered the chance to buy a brick or sponsor items such as chairs in cafeteria and auditorium.

Moshier said the committee is even researching the possibility of paying for some of the items through grants.

In the meantime, donations of any amount can be made online through the district website. Checks can also be mailed to Friends of Sumner’s Future, c/o Regional School Unit 24, 2165 Route 1, Sullivan, ME 04664.

An earlier version of this article should have stated the goal is to raise $1 million.

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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