360 students play on
CELEBRATING THE SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISING EFFORT to keep the Sonoma Valley Middle Schools sports programs alive with a big check, are Altimira student James Reed and Adele Harrison student Layla Schoeningh. Behind them are SVUSD Superintendent Louann Carlomagno and Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese. In the background are students Jaya Garcia, Uriel Vicente, Francescca Pharo, Bella Fanucchi, Alanna Johnston, Maddie Cashel, Hailey Anguiano, Manuel DeHaro and Valentino Battaglini. Behind them are Altimira principal Will Deeths, Index-Tribune Publisher David Bolling, Adele Harrison Principal Karla Conroy and SOS member Stacey Ellis-Schoeningh.
Maddie Cashel, an eighth grader at Adele Harrison Middle School, used a fundraising bike ride to collect $1,200 for Save Our Sports.
A fundraiser at Larson Family winery in May raised more than $26,000.
The Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer Association donated $4,000, The Sonoma Index-Tribune added a $5,000 matching grant, and The Republic of Thrift put another $1,000 into the pot.
Throughout the summer the donations came in, large and small, to keep Sonoma Valley middle school sports alive. Stacey Ellis-Schoeningh, a member of the Save Our Sports organizing committee, said some contributions even came from families with students in private schools outside the Valley.
“The fact that the community came together as fast as it did was just amazing,” she said. “I was born and raised here. I played sports here, I have four kids here. When I first heard about the middle school sports programs closing, I thought, no way, we can’t let that happen.”
So Ellis-Schoeningh joined with three other sports parents – Samantha Reed, Joanna Greenslade and Eileen Pharo – along with Altimira Principal Will Deeths and Adele Harrison Principal Karla Conroy, to raise something more than $50,000 to fund sports at both schools for the coming year. The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is a partner in the effort.
In the balance was a full schedule of soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and wrestling engaging the time and energies of more than 360 students. But the benefit of middle school sports stretches well beyond the ninth grade. “The middle schools feed the high school program,” Ellis-Schoeningh said. Losing middle school sports would have been a serious blow to high school athletics and could have put the Sonoma Valley High School Dragons at a major competitive disadvantage as the flow of experienced student athletes dried up.
The cut in middle school sports programs came during the school district’s nearly desperate effort to keep core curriculum instruction afloat as revenue for public schools took repeated budget hits from the state legislature.
And because of the continuing uncertainty of state funding, Ellis-Schoeningh said plans are already underway to ramp up a middle school sports fundraising drive for the 2013-14 school year.
A Cajun music and food festival is planned at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building on March 9, 2013, and tickets are already available by calling Chicki Vella at 938-3232.
Donations may be sent to the Sonoma Valley Education Society, earmarked for S.O.S.; or mailed to S.O.S., P.O. Box 752, Sonoma, CA 95476.