Parental support is needed to keep the organization alive
Throughout its 29 year history, the Liberty Bell Booster Club (LBBC) has quietly served the students of Liberty Bell Junior / Senior High School and the community of Methow Valley by undertaking projects, purchasing equipment and by supporting campus activities.
The continuation of this long and proud tradition is in jeopardy for lack of active members. “We just don’t have the bodies we need to do the job,” said current Booster Club president Jim McMillan.
Since its inception in 1992, one of its core values has been to “promote a desire and spirit for the extracurricular activities of Liberty Bell Junior and Senior High School, including the Methow Valley Independent Learning Center,” according to the regulations of the organization.
The club was established in 1992 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization through the efforts of a group of Liberty Bell parents, encouraged and supported by the then superintendent. Suellen White. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, girls ‘basketball and boys’ wrestling programs received great support, encouraged by parents and coaches of these programs.
“They were well funded and somewhat organized for both of these sports,” White said. “They had raised a lot of money for summer camps, equipment and other things for their sports.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the sports programs, lacking this kind of organization, were at a disadvantage by raising these additional funds beyond what the district could provide.
“We thought having one organization would be the best way to support all the programs,” White continued. The Liberty Bell Boosters were born from this idea.
With the opening of the new high school at its current location in 1996, LBBC’s first major project, and still the largest to date, was the construction of the grandstand for the new football field, a $ 80,000 project. . Early Boosters member Bob Naney recalled that the project was mostly fundraising and a bit of elbow grease.
“If I remember correctly, we mainly raised funds, hired the architect and contractor, and took out a loan. Most of the work we did was clean up after the grandstand was built, ”he said.
White recalls that the early years of the new high school location included significant resources and volunteer time to build the grounds and install lighting and other fixtures.
“Ray Ellis from Electric Co-op was huge in building the fields. He worked hard to raise money for these projects, ”White said.
Over the years, a number of other notable projects have been made with the funding of boosters, including the large green net for the safety net, as well as the Mountain Lion baseball field fencing, padded chairs, volleyball standards and padding in the gymnasium, lighting for tennis courts and fencing at the stadium and at the football / soccer track.
The stadium sound system was added in 2009 as part of a partnership project with two local sound professionals, Myron Wengerd and Gary Ryan. at Mountain Lion Stadium.
LBBC has also worked with school staff, quietly supporting individual students in economic need over the years, helping with paid play fees, personal equipment purchases, and helping children overcome barriers to learning. participation in inter-school activities.
When the school’s ASB ended the practice of providing student meal funding to attend state events, LBBC partnered with Winthrop Kiwanis to provide coaches with support for two meals. team at these events.
Boosters and Kiwanis have also partnered with the Methow Valley School District to replace the elementary school’s Cub and Eagle gymnasium scoreboards, as well as the new stadium scoreboard.
For several years when funding was short, LBBC also partnered with the school district to fund the program’s uniform rotation, providing replacement uniforms for each Liberty Bell program on a rotational basis, including uniforms for the program. first time for the tennis team a few years ago.
Right now, with the pay-to-play disappearance, the elimination of game / event admission fees, and the increase in the number of students participating in extracurricular activities, all would look good for the sports program and its activities. supporters.
Yet parental interest and involvement in LBBC has waned to the point that only a handful of people play an active role in club activities.
COVID has also played an apparent role in the reduced number of active boosters. In a preseason interview during the first week of fall training, McMillan expressed some frustration with the lack of commitment to this season’s first big event, volunteers for the concession stand at the Liberty Bell’s home opener this Friday (Sept. 10).
At the volleyball parents’ meeting with the staff, McMillan, watching assistant coach Stephanie Mitchell, told the gathered crowd of parents and players, “Right now it’s me and Stephanie.” McMillan, the junior high football head coach, and Mitchell will both be involved in team practices on Friday afternoons until 5-6 p.m. on match day and will not be available to attend. install and prepare the concession operation.
Mitchell, in an appeal to the parents of his athletes, reiterated McMillan’s point: “Right now, with just the two of us, the Booster Club is falling apart. We need parents to step in and help us.
It is not only in the role of dealerships to raise funds, but organizationally, more people are needed to manage and operate the club. McMillan, while currently president, is in fact prohibited in the organization’s bylaws from holding elective and voting office on the board of directors. He agreed to act as club president, but only temporarily until someone came to help run the organization.
LBBC relied on memberships, donations, concessions, sales of clothing spirits and a banner / sign advertising program. A long-standing agreement between the LBBC and the school district grants boosters a right of first refusal for dealership sales at all events held on campus.
Similar schools like Okanogan and Oroville have active boosters. Oroville has historically executed a number of special fundraising and construction concession projects. Okanogan relies on an annual auction and advertising through banners, plaques and a video system in his gymnasium that constantly thanks the booster members and the businesses that support the organization.
McMillan recently accepted an invitation to the Okanogan’s annual auction dinner and was impressed. “They raise all of their annual needs at this unique event. But it takes a lot of work and a lot of people to get there, ”he said. “It was an incredible event.”
With the lack of active members this year, LBBC’s future is precarious. The club is looking for people to fill leadership positions, but most of the time new members are needed to do the fundraising and communication work.
In particular, the exploitation of concessions during fall events such as football and women’s soccer games is the immediate need. There are currently no plans to offer concessions at women’s volleyball matches this season, primarily as a COVID-19 precaution, eliminating the potential for close-group gatherings and indoor food processing and consumption. .
Club efforts are currently focused on returning to a regular meeting schedule, recruiting members and officers, and identifying needs around campus.
The school district has a long-standing cooperative relationship with LBBC and would like this to continue. As the district has found itself financially able to eliminate all paid game fees and game admissions, operations director Michael Wilbur said a revitalized and viable recall organization is vital. He recognized LBBC’s strong tradition of support and accomplishment: “The bottom line is that the impact of the Booster Club goes far beyond the dollars raised. Boosters help create a climate where students feel honored and valued, a culture of inclusion, belonging and dignity. As a District, we will work hard with those who step forward to continue the tradition of recall of making enormous contributions to Liberty Bell.
To be involved
Joining the Booster Club is easy, according to McMillan. “You just need to be available for meetings and volunteer once in a while. The club has a request, strictly for information only, and a minimum membership fee requirement of $ 30 per year. This $ 30 goes directly into the club’s operating budget.
Specifically, McMillan seeks greater “father” involvement. “Boosters have been kind of a mom thing lately,” McMillan said, referring to meetings and activities that are noticeably more populated by Liberty Bell moms and less populated by dads. Dads seem to come forward to support concessions at football games when a barbecue is involved, but Dads participation in meetings, planning and most franchise and fundraising projects has been lacking for some time. number of years.
McMillan’s desire is to get things going again, with a full roster of officers, board members and active committees. Along with McMillan and Mitchell, Pam Purtell is treasurer. Purtell has been involved with boosters since 2007. Her last child graduated from Liberty Bell in 2012, but she felt a willingness to support the children as best she can by taking care of the administration part of the club. She would like to finally move away from LBBC after 15 years and focus on her now dispersed family.
LBBC has a social media presence on Facebook where viewers can get event information, scores and results, occasional breakdown of games and events. Boosters have an email account at [email protected] Messages can also be dropped off at the Liberty Bell front office.
“On a personal level, I greatly appreciate all that Booster Club has done, and look forward to working on new projects – and continuing old ones – with a reinvigorated new group of Booster Club leaders in the years to come,” said Wilbur said. “We just need people to fill these big shoes with people who have been doing it for a long time.”