Stafford High School booster clubs begin another busy year

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Sep. 4, 2013
Isaac Combs gives a good washing to a car during the car wash on Aug. 31. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Isaac Combs gives a good washing to a car during the car wash on Aug. 31. Photos by Annie Gentile.

The new school year only started the Wednesday before Labor Day, but on Saturday of the holiday weekend, the Stafford High School Music Boosters were already holding their first fundraisers of the school year, with a can and bottle drive in the parking lot of the former Stafford Food Center and a car wash and bake sale at Town Hall.

“I’ve been at the school for 28 years, and there has been some music-related booster club for over 28 years. They were here before I started,” said music director Laurie Dillon, who, along with Music Boosters treasurer Ellen Nosel and several student volunteers, kept the car wash and bake sale end humming. “We have five adult-run support groups: music, drama, athletics, PIE - which is Partners in Education - and a Safe Graduation Group. They’re all very active, and the community is very supportive of all these groups,” said Dillon.

“The Music Boosters don’t do catalogue-type fundraisers. Ours are move service-related,” she said, adding that they’ve been doing the can and bottle drives since way back when the state first started offering the nickel deposit redemption program.

Dillon said the various booster clubs often work together and that the drama and music groups are very closely aligned, particularly because they have a lot of students who participate in both activities. For example, she said the drama and music booster clubs put in $6,000 worth of new lighting in the auditorium, and the two groups, along with the athletic booster club, donated funds toward the new electronic sign at the entryway to the high school. “We’re also very grateful to TTM Technologies, who came through for us with funds,” said Dillon.

Parent volunteers Dawn Gagne and Michelle Duffy and three students took up their posts at the Stafford Food Center parking lot collecting bottles and cans on the same morning. Gagne said the fundraising efforts are essential, as they have helped to pay for band equipment, uniforms and scholarships for seniors.

“The fundraising also pays for activities, like a trip to Six Flags for the kids every other year,” said Duffy. Duffy said the students have been fortunate to have Dillon at the helm, as she keeps them involved in a lot of different school activities, as well as in the community at large. They perform annually at the University of Massachusetts Band Day with 30 to 40 other bands, and they sing at several area nursing homes and at the Avery Park elderly housing. They also perform at the local library, the Enfield Hospice annual tree-lighting ceremony, and at Sturbridge Village. “A lot of the kids made blankets for cancer patients at Johnson Memorial Hospital,” Duffy said.

Upcoming fundraisers include a Coffee House at the high school on Oct. 16, an Oct. 30 Variety Show, Dinner Theater drama productions of “Babes in Toyland” and “A Secret Garden” on Nov. 15 and 16, and a Madrigal Feast in December.

“I’ve got the greatest kids in the school,” said Dillon. “I know if I put up a sign-up sheet for a fundraiser, they’ll be here to support it,” she said.

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