Tuesday afternoon the Highland Park Education Foundation held a pep rally at a local country club, complete with a lineup of HP Pipe and Drum Corps on the steps in the driveway and cheerleaders and Belles in the lobby. It was so loud that sign language was almost necessary.
But all the fanfare was right in tune for the afternoon’s program about the official launch of the Lead For Tomorrow endowment campaign as the Highland Park Independent School District was just barely into its second century.
Highland Park Education Foundation Board President Michael Denton Jr. (1989) revealed that the goals were to
- empower HPISD with the resources to increase teacher salaries to competitive levels
- support every school in the district through new endowed funds designated by donors specifically to support academic programs and activities
- position HPISD to be financially adaptable to future challenges
- positively impact residential property values in the Park Cities by strengthening the permanent financial resources available to HPISD that are not subject to state control and
- ensure the continued legacy of academic, arts and athletic achievement established by HPISD’s first century.
To achieve these goals, a whopping $40M was the target number for the campaign, of which $17M had already been raised with philanthropist Garry Weber providing the lead donation of $5M.
It was pointed out that while it had taken 25 years (1995 to 2019) to reach 50 funds, Lead For Tomorrow already had more than doubled the number of funds (140+ funds) in just two years (2021 to 2023).
In rolling out the plans and the need for the campaign for the standing-room-only Scottie supporters like Margo Goodwin, Phyllis Riggins, Brad Cheves, Lisa Ogle, Elizabeth Gambrell, Rebecca Beasley, Michaela Dyer, Ralph Jones, Connie O’Neill, Gage Prichard, Syd Carter, Maura Young, Brian Hegi and Cordelia Boone, organizers pulled out the big guns including Endowment Campaign Co-Chairs Cindy and Guy Kerr (both 1971), Campaign Honorary Co-Chair Mike Boone (1959), Highland Park Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Rockwood, Foundation Executive Director Meg Jones Boyd (1996) and Foundation Board President-Elect Bill Ogle.
Just one of the highlights of the presentation was a video featuring Grammy Award winner/Tony nominated Stark Sands (1997), who told how instrumental his days at Highland Park had been in leading him to his career.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hyer Elementary School teacher Brittany Cristofoli provided a sweetheart of a story about how teachers had been important in her childhood, inspiring her to accomplish her dream of becoming a teacher.
In addressing the group, Mike Boone eloquently recalled the words that are etched over the high school entrance “Enter To Learn. Go Forth To Serve.” Mike added that they had not said “to be rich,” “to be powerful” or “to be famous.” It was to serve. A second saying that Mike felt was inspiring was written over the high school stage: “The spirit of a people is disclosed by the education of its students.”
Thanks to the school system’s forefathers and mothers, the district has produced Nobel and Pulitzer prize, Heisman, Cy Young, Ryder Cup and Olympic Gold winners, as well as an astronaut, a governor, mayors, deans, teachers, doctors, attorneys, entrepreneurs, actors, artists and scientists in the past century. Who knows what else “leads for tomorrow.”
Garry was so moved by the event that he added an additional $2M to his original $5M, pushing the campaign’s new total to $19M. Go, Scots!
* Photo courtesy of Highland Park Education Foundation