Jeff West Booster Club: A boost for the entire school
by Clarke Davis
When Angela Forshee moved into the Jefferson West school district she looked for a parent-teacher organization to become involved with but couldn’t find one. Her search led her to the Booster Club and the knowledge that things are different at Jefferson West.
“The Booster Club is a booster for everything here,” she said. “That means academics and athletics from kindergarten through 12th grade.”
She is now vice president of the club and is working to get the word out to parents that support of the Booster Club is every bit as likely to benefit a teacher in the grade school as it is a ball player in high school.
Forshee and the club president, Petrina Murphree, met recently with this reporter to assess the impact it has on the three school buildings.
Its budget — approximately $10,000 a year — depends on membership dues, spring carnival receipts, concession stand proceeds, and the sale of red and black wearing apparel that promotes Jefferson West and the Tigers.
While they can cite a number of benefits derived from the money, they also applaud the many volunteers who make it possible.
They point out that it takes a lot of volunteers to pull off all the projects and run the concession stands to result in having a healthy budget to provide help where it is needed.
Both women have a child in the third grade and Murphree said she is doing her volunteer work now in the hope that someone else will step up when she wants to take her turn at watching the sport events someday.
They see this sense of fair play at work every week in the district, when parents of basketball players run the concessions so the parents of volleyball players can be in the gymnasium watching their child and vice versa.
Elementary Principal Wes Sturgeon said he finds there is a “very good group of volunteers” but he would like to see new faces. His fear is wearing out the regular volunteers and that bringing in new people would lighten the workload for all.
Topping the list of Booster Club gifts are up to four $500 scholarships awarded to seniors each year. The club sponsored an academic awards night and provides refreshments for programs and hospitality rooms for coaches throughout the year.
At the middle school, the club provides awards for those who excel on state assessment tests and it sponsors dances for the seventh- and eighth-graders and activity nights for the fifth- and sixth-graders.
Babysitting is provided at the elementary school for various activities to help parents. It has donated $1,000 to the science fair the past couple of years, pays for professional authors to bring a program to the school, and provides field day treats. This year the club has paid for new basketball goals on the playground and bought web-cams for the teachers as they expand into new areas of technology.
District wide, the club has shared the cost on the district calendars and provided pocket calendars, sports programs, and posters.
Murphree said they charged for the calendars last year, but did not profit from them.
The carnival provides the Booster Club with most of its money and the greater portion is simply divided among the three school buildings and turned over to the principals.
Sturgeon is new to administration this year and admits he is not aware of all things they are doing without following the heavy cuts in school budgets in recent years. But he said he is very appreciative of the extra cash at his disposal for small things that the school budget can no longer afford.
One thing Sturgeon did with the money was hold a drawing among the teachers and awarded three of them with a $50 gift card each to buy things for their classrooms. He still has about $1,000 to use during the rest of the year.
Sturgeon also pointed out the added importance of the Booster Club in light of the fact that the district has lost the Optimist Club and the Kiwanis Club, both once big supporters of the school district.
Membership levels range from $10 to $75 and include pocket calendars, coupons good on wearing apparel, and business advertisements on programs for the higher amounts.
They point out that no one has to join to be a volunteer.
Meetings, the president said, are not heavily attended. The four officers are usually joined by three or four more and they would like to see more people attend. Meetings are at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at the elementary library in Meriden—except for October, when it will be held a week later.
It’s easy to join, both women said. People can come to the meeting or sign up during games at the concessions stands. The apparel committee will be hard at work taking Christmas orders the next couple of months.
Angela is a dental assistant and Petrina is a substitute teacher in the district.
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