JOHNSON CREEK — Construction finally is under way on the long-awaited new Johnson Creek Middle/High School, but the push for athletic fields to go along with the new school has just begun.
All Johnson Creek-area residents, alumni of Johnson Creek High School and interested community members are invited to attend the kickoff of the capital campaign for athletic fields at the new school.
The “One Team, One Dream” capital campaign inaugural event will take place from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, at the Johnson Creek Community Center.
Last spring, the school district successfully passed a referendum to construct a new middle/high school building on the west side of the village along Highway B. However, in order to reduce the cost to taxpayers, athletic fields were excluded from the referendum.
The “One Team, One Dream” campaign aims to raise $2.5 million to construct a new football field and track, a game field for baseball, a game field for softball, and practice fields.
Also planned on the site are a concession stand and storage facility.
“Our goal is to be out there with our teams as soon as possible,” said Trent Probst, assistant athletic director for the School District of Johnson Creek. “It would be great to be out there in the fall of 2016 when the school opens.”
If new athletic fields are not completed by then, student athletes would continue to use the current athletic fields.
“For the time being, we have softball playing at the (existing) high school, baseball at Firemen’s Park and football at Wendt Memorial Field next to the (existing) high school,” Probst said.
The district currently does not have a track, but it just brought back track as a sport a couple of years ago and numbers in that sport are rising, especially at the middle school level.
The coaches do a good job of working with what’s available, Probst said, but it would be ideal if students had a real track on which to practice. Also, without an actual track, the district has been unable to host any track meets so team members are continually on the road.
If new athletic fields are not complete when the new high school opens, local sports teams will lose time out of their practices due to the need to transport students and equipment off site. On home game nights, the same thing will be true.
“We have great kids at Johnson Creek and very hard-working coaches,” Probst said. “And we have a very motivated group of community members, staff members, coaches and administrators who are committed to getting good facilities for our teams.
“We are really looking forward to this campaign and the opportunity to have a potentially awesome facility inside and out,” he said.
The successful referendum proved that the community wants a quality school facility for its students, and organizers of the new capital campaign want to carry that success onto the fields, Probst said.
At the June 24 kickoff, organizers will introduce the campaign’s honorary chairperson, a local business owner.
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear about a sizable kickoff donation, and to learn more about the campaign, ways people can contribute and upcoming events.
Paula Constable, community chair of the “One Team, One Dream” capital campaign, said that coordinators hope to see a number of residents, business representatives and supporters from outside the school district come together for the capital campaign kickoff.
Constable, one of the four founding members of the “4 Our Kids” community group that helped to promote and pass the recent building referendum, is taking a leading role in the capital campaign, as are the other founding members, Patti Swanson, Heidi Hartz and Merisa Nicholson.
Other local leaders helping with the kickoff will be Michelle Kaltenberg, Rick Kaltenberg, Rich Wrensch, Carol O’Neil, Andy Swanson and school administration officials.
Constable said that as community supporters looked at the issue of how to fund the outdoor athletic facilities to go along with the new school, they found that throughout the state, it is now common for school districts to rely on outside funding to support athletic facilities.
“It’s a challenge, to be sure, but it’s also an opportunity for the community to come together around a common issue,” Constable said.
Knowing the issue of athletic fields still had to be addressed, the Johnson Creek school board put together an ad hoc marketing committee after the building referendum had passed.
This committee worked with a marketing firm to come up with the “One Team, One Dream” campaign.
The committee decided to have a public kickoff, setting the time at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in order to accommodate the many summer sports young families are involved with at this time of the year.
“I’d love to see everybody come out,” Constable said.
The community advocate said that there will be lots of different ways people can contribute to help fulfill the need for outdoor athletic facilities at the new school. There will be numerous levels at which people can donate, and there are also community fundraisers in the works, including the second annual “Run for the Fields” 5K, which is slated for this coming October, with the date yet to be named.
“Diana Thomas will be heading that up,” Constable said. “In addition, the committee is also talking about other possible events in conjunction with that run. We could have a full day of activities.”
For more information regarding the kickoff event, contact Johnson Creek Middle/High School principal Cale Vogel at (920) 699-3481 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People also can find additional information, including diagrams and renderings of the project and different ways people can help the capital campaign on the website at http://jconeteamonedream.com.