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Fundraisers help Pacelli replace auditorium seats

By Karen Colbenson

kcolbenson@postbulletin.com

Major changes are under way at Pacelli High School because of the fundraising efforts of school staff, parents and many alumni.

The school, in the original 1913 building at 311 Fourth St. N.W., is having work done this summer to the gym, auditorium and second floor junior high wing.

The gym walls and ceiling recently were painted, and this week, the floor will be sanded to bare wood, then repainted and sealed. A large green shamrock mural will be displayed in the middle of the new, shiny maple-colored gym floor.

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The project is being funded by a $17,000 Booster Club donation.

Some money also will be used to paint the east wing on the second floor and put new lockers in for the junior high students.

The auditorium also will be getting an upgrade.

A fundraiser for 210 new green and black plush seats for the high school auditorium began about two weeks ago. Metal folding chairs currently are used during events.

Norm Blaser, director of development for Austin Area Catholic Schools, said many alumni have donated enough money to purchase 72 of the seats, which cost about $250 each. Small plaques engraved with the names of donors will be placed on the backs of each chair.

The idea for the chair fundraiser began last summer during a PHS Class of 1957 reunion. Blaser said he was giving the class a tour of the school, and when they reached the auditorium, many were surprised to see the seating was no longer there.

Blaser told the class the old seats wore out and were removed in the 1970s, and there never has been enough money to replace them.

"One of the graduates immediately went to the stage and took out his checkbook and wrote out a check for the first seat," said Blaser.

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As the weeks went by, more checks from alumni arrived at the school for new seats.

"It sounded like people were interested, so I let out word that we were going to sell chairs," said Blaser.

About 6,000 newsletters were sent to alumni. Some have been donating money in their own name, and some are sending money as a memorial to a classmate who has died since graduating from the school. Some have sent enough money for multiple chairs.

"It’s been absolutely amazing," said Blaser. "The auditorium project is the most fun that I’ve ever had raising money. The notes people send with donations are really nice."

It shows PHS alumni still have fond memories of their high school days, some even 50 years later, said Blaser.

At the beginning of the 2007 school year, the school was $364,000 in debt. Through alumni, friends and some major fundraisers, more than $551,000 was raised over the year.

The school is now debt-free, said Blaser.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

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Pacelli High School http://www.pacellionline.net/

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