Written by Bill Schanen IV
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 19:10
SHOWING OFF AN elaborate plaque that will recognize those who contribute to a fund to purchase a new Port Washington High School grand piano were (from left) Sue Kruske, Choral Director Dennis Gephart and Russ Klotz. Klotz, who made the plaque, and Kruske are of members of the school’s Music Booster Club, which is spearheading the fundraiser. Photo by Sam Arendt
Port High parent group aims to buy new grand piano for school
A Port Washington High School parent group has launched a fundraiser it hopes will strike a chord with the community.
The Music Booster Club is attempting to raise about $76,000 to purchase a new concert grand piano to replace one that is older than anyone can remember.
“Our current piano is so old that no one in the school district knows how long it has been around,” said Dennis Gephart, the school’s choral director.
The parent group is selling keys on an elaborate “Key Contributors” piano plaque that was recently mounted outside the high school auditorium. Each key has been assigned a dollar value ranging from $150 to $5,000 for middle C. Donors, who can purchase a single key or an entire octave, will be recognized by name on the plaque.
The plaque is the work of Port Washington resident Russ Klotz and was donated to the school by him and his wife Yvonne as a way “to give back to a great school,” he said.
“My wife and I just want to express our thanks to the school for all the opportunities granted to both our children,” said Klotz, who’s a technology education teacher at Brown Deer High School.
Particularly inspiring for the couple has been the school’s music program, which last year claimed national recognition when its a cappella group Limited Edition won the High School A-Cappella Championship in New York. The Klotzes’ daughter Tori, who is a senior this year, is a member of the group.
“The trip to New York and winning the championship was an amazing experience,” Mrs. Klotz said.
Gephart and Music Booster members hope the school’s commitment to music will inspire more donations.
“There are so many people who have sung behind our current piano,” Gephart said. “We hope some of these people feel strongly about supporting the music program.”
Since announcing the fundraiser two weeks ago, the club has received four donations worth about $2,000. Those contributions are in addition to an anonymous gift of $5,000, one of three checks for identical amounts also given to the music departments at Lincoln Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port Washington.
“We still have no idea who the donor is,” Gephart said. “We’ve even tried to give thank-you notes to the bank in the hope they could pass them along to the donor, but the bank wouldn’t do it.”
With a piano so old it’s difficult to play, the Port High music department knew just how to spend the $5,000.
“Having a good piano is just huge for a choral program,” Gephart said. “It enhances what I’m able to do with the students, and a choir really responds to a quality sound.
“The piano we have now is difficult to keep in tune and so hard to use that I really can’t have the kids play it.”
Years ago, the school’s Henry F. Miller grand piano was sent to Germany to be refurbished. In the process of “re-dipping” it, markings that would reveal its age were covered up, Gephart said.
“Our best guess is that it’s between 85 and 90 years old,” he said.
Music Booster Club members are hoping their campaign is another in a series of successful fundraising efforts to benefit the Port Washington-Saukville School District.
Parent groups have raised money for a new soccer field, swimming pool improvements and, most recently, new high school gym bleachers.
“That really says a lot about the people of this community and their willingness to support our schools,” Gephart said.
Gephart said donation forms will soon be available on the Port Washington High School portion of the district Web site at www.pwssd.k12.wi.us. On the Port High page, select music from the departments tab. For additional information, call 268-5627.