A Surprise Boost for Student Athletes and Musicians

  • If Charles Dickens lived in Rush-Henrietta in the mid-1970s, he might have said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As with many challenging situations, our district and its students are better off today because of it.

    On August 14,1975, voters were asked to consider three separate budget-related issues: transportation, supplies, and athletics. It was the third time these items were up for vote that year, and transportation was the only one of the three approved on the final attempt.

    By a narrow margin of 2,896 to 2,766, the $213,000 sports budget failed. The consequences were dire and immediate - all 97 sports teams were eliminated for the 1975-1976 school year. 

    In response, a group of determined parents, coaches, and residents began a booster club with the intent of raising the money needed to continue sports in R-H. Led by Club Chairman Cutler Cleveland and Financial Chairman George Burke, the newly formed group focused on raising the $17,000 that would be needed to run the fall sports program. They had their work cut out for them - league rules dictated the football team must begin to practice on August 20, just six days after the deflating vote.  

    Some communities would have given up, but that was not in our nature. Incredibly, initial support from private donors and the Rush-Henrietta Athletic Association, coupled with a donation of medical services to provide sports physicals by the Vince Lombardi Football League, convinced the R-H Board of Education that the boosters just might meet their goal. Football practice was allowed to begin on time. 

    Through a series of additional fundraising efforts and the contributions of countless people in and around Rush-Henrietta, the R-H Boosters Club surpassed their goal and fall sports were saved. The varsity football team, coached by the legendary Werner Kleemann, were undefeated in league play that year and were crowned the Monroe County Eastern Division Champions.

    Now known as the Rush-Henrietta Sports Booster Club, this group of sports-minded parents, alumni, staff, and community members continues to raise money to benefit our student athletes. Their activities raise awareness and provide recognition for students and teams. The group drives the All-Sport Community Kickoff, provides flowers for seniors at their senior day games, offers scholarships, and organizes the year-end Royal Comet Awards.  

    Although not formed under such dire circumstances, the Rush-Henrietta Music Parent Association has a similar goal - to raise awareness and provide opportunities for our musicians. In November 1992, Director of Music and Visual Arts Fred Weingarten formed the group with 16 parents attending the first meeting. The following spring, the group was formally introduced to the Board of Education. Beginning in the 1993-1994 academic year, it began fundraising and awareness efforts with Michael Wood as president and Patricia Pogue as the first treasurer. By the end of the year, there were 140 members.

    A variety of fundraising efforts provided money that was made available for R-H music teachers to request financial assistance for enrichment opportunities for students and other non-budgeted items. The group has also provided advocacy for music programs in Rush-Henrietta, and support for summer enrichment opportunities. This group of dedicated parents is still going strong - offering hospitality at district concerts, promoting achievements of our musicians, and providing scholarships for students interested in summer music programs.

    We appreciate the continued support of both organizations on behalf of our students!

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