To the Editor:
In 2004 it was announced that Collins Generating Station would be closing its doors. The closing of this plant caused 94 workers to lose their jobs and District 54 to lose a large sum of tax revenue.
District 54 was in bad shape and was forced to cut all extra-curricular activities — band/choir, clubs, Scholastic Bowl and all sports. There would no longer be any extra-curricular activities funded by District 54. These activities were going to become extinct in District 54.
This is when Lori Gronek and a team of people formed what we know as the Braves Booster Club (BBC). This group of people believed, as do I, that these extra-curricular activities were a vital part of our children’s development and education and should remain in our school. Therefore, a mission statement, constitution and by-laws were created for the BBC.
The group put forth a valiant amount of hard work and convincing and the 2004-2005 Board of Education decided to allow them to continue with this newly created venture. Sheryl Dzuryak and Kim Payton were both amazingly supportive and continued to be at every event. The BBC raised money through concession stands, admissions, and donations; they did not have any fundraising events because they felt people were paying enough. In just two short years, the BBC had quite a substantial amount of money saved.
Written in the by-laws of the BBC was that you must have a child in the district to be on the BBC board. Therefore, after the second year of existence, the Groneks had to leave when their son graduated and Lori had to relinquish her “baby” and hoped it would continue to flourish. Unfortunately, sometime shortly after the BBC’s second year of existence, the money saved had been mismanaged and overspending took place. The current BBC board has been working hard to bring the organization back to the secure financial existence it once had.
In my opinion, they are getting there; however, the weak economy has only added to their struggle. Over the past eight years, some things have changed for the BBC. They have a better plan in place to prevent the misuse of funds, and it was also decided that it was more beneficial to have an athletic director directly tied to District 54. I feel both of these adjustments are positive to the organization.
I was not part of the group that formed the BBC; however, I was present eight years ago when this organization was created in order to keep these activities in our school. My son was in his last year at Shabbona when the band/Choir chose to form their own Booster Club and the BBC took over running all the clubs and athletic events for Shabbona. Therefore, I feel I have a true appreciation and knowledge of just how important it is to keep the BBC alive and running.
I often hear complaints about the fees charged for our children to participate in these extra-curricular activities. Yes, for many families these fees are steep, but please keep in mind that these fees go toward payment for the equipment, scorebooks, uniforms, referees, coaches, and tournament fees (where applicable). Without all of the above, there are no athletic events.
No one is getting rich from the BBC activity fees and sometimes, when there are small teams, the savings fund is tapped or a fundraiser needs to be generated. I feel it is currently vital these fees be collected in order to preserve our athletics and clubs. Hopefully, with the continued hard work of the BBC board to re-coop the past financial abuse, these fees may someday be reduced.
Like today, the initial BBC, along with their sponsored events, was run on volunteers. Volunteers were needed to run clocks, keep books, take admissions and open/close/stock concession stands, just as they are today. I have recently learned that parent volunteers have been declining with regard to activities hosted by the BBC. I was extremely surprised when I learned of the difficulty the Shabbona athletic programs were having finding volunteers.
After some thought, I felt there was a possibility that the current generation of parents and the upcoming parents most likely do not fully understand the function and the importance of the Braves Booster Club. I realized I was one of very few that had been present in 2004 when the Braves Booster Club was formed. This is why I chose to use the Morris Daily Herald as my sounding device. My goal is to reach as many people/parents as I can in order to inform and educate them that without the Braves Booster Club there would be no athletic programs and clubs at Shabbona School.
District 54 no longer finances these programs and has not since 2004. Our athletic programs and clubs are all run as a result of the BBC. The clubs include yearbook, student council, newspaper, poms, and math teamm while the sports include soccer, softball, baseball, boys’ & girls’ basketball, wrestling, track, cheerleading and Scholastic Bowl. The BBC is vital to our children’s activities and it is vital that we as parents support the BBC, not only financially, but we all need to volunteer in order to keep our programs alive and running.
Without a volunteer to keep a clock or a scorebook, there can be no game; without a volunteer to run concessions or admissions, the organization cannot keep financially afloat. The more volunteers we have for our children’s events, the more successful the event and the more successful the child. Please note volunteers come in all shapes and sizes... parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, neighbors and friends.
I implore all Shabbona parents to volunteer when needed for their child’s activity. There are different days, times and jobs open for volunteering at events and if for some reason you still are unable, to work a time and date into your schedule, please find someone to represent you.
I have one last request. Anyone and everyone reading this, please clip this article put it on your refrigerator, share it with your neighbor, share it with your friends, share it with other parents of District 54, keep it for future reference. Let’s not lose sight again of the importance of the Braves Booster Club and what it offers our children.