Flanked by the superintendent of schools and the president of the Methacton School Board, Larry Smith, the honorary chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee was pleased to join his fellow committee members to announce the details of the district’s current fundraising efforts.
Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe introduced the former CFO of Comcast, as the honorary chairman during a press conference hosted Monday night at the Farina Educational Center about the campaign.
“We want to make the public aware of efforts our Methacton Community is making in providing an opportunity for new athletic facilities here at Methacton High School,” said Zerbe. “Standing behind me is the team, the basis of our efforts to help combine both public funds and private funds to make this happen.”
The installation of new auxiliary fields, turf and lights to the current high school complex would bring the school up to more modern standards, not to mention bring a level of safety necessary for today’s athlete.
Smith said he was inspired to become a part of the campaign after his own children and niece had passed through the Warrior hallways.
“My children and one niece went to Methacton years ago, and they had a great time, and there were great academics and sport activities,” said Smith. “All three children played college sports.”
Now, faced with three grandsons heading through the same hallways, Smith said he hopes to see improvements in the facilities.
“It is very important to have appropriate fields and conditions for them to achieve in athletics,” said Smith. “It is a shame, but we’ve fallen behind here, and we are where we are. It is important for the community to step up and provide the resources we need.”
Smith said that, while there may be hesitation for some, the investment is well worth the donation.
“Some will say ‘but we pay taxes, why do we need to do this?’” he said. “It is important that we make this happen. It is a benefit to all future kids.”
With so much family in sports, Smith said he isn’t happy with where Methacton currently stands.
“You go around and see these athletic facilities,” said Smith, who noted that many of his grandchildren attended private schools in the Greater Philadelphia area. “Look around, we are behind the times. We are ‘under-fielded.’”
Smith aims to bring his connections, communication skills and work ethic to the table in bringing the funds into the Methacton School District project.
School Board President Christian Nascimento agreed. He said that, while the campaign was kicked off just a few short weeks ago, the team has been hard at work well before that.
“The team behind us is reaching out to the community, and to local businesses, to solicit funds to make this goal a reality,” he said.
Trained by a consulting firm, the team has been educated in garnering funds from those connected to the Methacton community.
“The Education Foundation (of the Methacton Community, EFMC) has done a great job of getting events out to the community,” said Nascimento. “They’ve earmarked funds (read more about the $10,000 donation here), and do smaller, ground-level events.”
Future plans will also include the naming of bricks along facility walkways and “things like that so folks can participate at that level,” said Nascimento.
Current, the team is focused on raising the $1.7 million needed by offering naming rights to items like the stadium, grandstands or field posts.
Zerbe noted that campaign efforts will include two major phases, with this first focused on larger, corporate donations and in-kind work giving. After late January through the intended shovels-in-ground date of early March, the team will go to a more local, individual gift level.
Nascimento said that he is confident in the team and its progress to make that goal a reality.
“This is a project that has been fermenting for the past several years, and we might have just officially kicked off the Capital Campaign, but we’ll be keeping the community involved,” he said. “The reach that the district and Methacton has, the employers that have customers here, the workers here; there are enough proud of the Methacton association that folks are going to give. We are focused on making that happen.”
Former board president Jim VanHorn said it wasn’t just up to the chairmen and woman.
“These people here are on an advisory committee,” he said. “But we have at least 30 other people active in our community, business people with a vested interest, each with key accounts they are working on.”
Current board member and former Audubon Recreation Association president Gregory Pellicano said that the youth sports in the community are a good sign that the support is there.
“We have a very strong sports community in this town,” said Pellicano, who noted leagues such as the local football teams, ARA, Methacton United, lacrosse and field hockey, just to name a few. “There are a lot of parents with children with a vested interest to play here in the future.”
Nascimento added that the interest grows well outside of sports, such as those invested into the band and musically competitive programs. The team is focused on getting the funds in place in time for all field improvements.
“The failure to do this would be negative,” said Smith.
“We’ve seen the test scores, and where our high school is ranked, our district is ranked,” he said. “We are recognized for our excellence in education, but we may have fallen behind in the facilities. It is time to get our athletics and facilities up to par with our education.”
Forms are available for those parties wishing to donate to the Capital Campaign at the Farina Education Center, located next to the high school. Checks can be made payable to the Methacton School District, and credit cards are also accepted via the form.
Those donating at levels of $5,000 or more can also view a brochure, outlining a wide variety of naming rights for areas such as the field, press box, entrance areas, ticket booths, benches or bleachers, in addition to specific track and field areas of the improved facilities.
For more information or to make a donation, write to Methacton School District, Attn: Capital Campaign, 1001 Kriebel Mill Road, Eagleville, PA 19403.