WENATCHEE — WestSide High School will be able to grow more leaders and vegetables in the future thanks to a $10,000 donation from an anonymous community member.
The donor visited the alternative high school in May as part of the Wenatchee Rotary Club meeting, which included a presentation on the Leadership Club and the curriculum that could come with the addition of a greenhouse on the school’s campus.
“She was so impressed that she felt compelled to help support the program,” WestSide Principal Kory Kalahar said, designating $8,000 for the greenhouse project and $2,000 to help the leadership club continue its work.
The greenhouse project has been discussed since 2013 as an idea to create project-based curriculum to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math activities. At that time, Wenatchee Rotary Club and the Community Foundation of NCW created a fund to start gathering donations for the estimated $24,000 cost.
“We would host Super Bowl parties to raise additional dollars,” Kalahar said. “With this $8,000 donation, we will be close to $24,000 total for the project which means it could begin to move forward in planning. The STEM activities involved would mainly consist of the science and technology students would need to be immersed in to grow and cultivate the plants and vegetables as designated through our science department.”
Kalahar said the donation for the greenhouse will kick-start the planning phase.
“Being that we were not counting on this generous donation, we really now have the fun work of beginning collaboration around the idea of the greenhouse, curriculum, student outcomes, incentives and our overall goals,” he said. “This work will help guide the design and needs associated with the greenhouse project. We are excited to begin this work to have our students have another STEM opportunity as well as a project-based learning experience that will have tangible hands-on activities and a product in the end.”
Leadership Club is a service club that takes on projects designed to help the school and community. Students take on a variety of leadership roles and responsibilities, not only to raise money, but to accomplish their goals.
“Last year they raised money and collected items for the homeless in their Operation Care Kit Drive and raised $11,000 from our fifth annual spaghetti feed,” Kalahar said. Proceeds from the spaghetti feed each year go to help a community member in need.
“They have been able to leverage support through grants and donations in the past to sustain their work since 100% of their efforts go back to the community in some way,” he said.
The $2,000 will help sustain the club, he said, with a goal of boosting membership and recruiting guest speakers. Some of the funds also will help with the annual field trip to Seattle that includes a college campus tour and a fun tourist activity.
The $10,000 donation is the largest gift from an individual the school has received in Kalahar’s eight years at WestSide, he said.
“We have individuals and groups who donate money for scholarships to give to students to the tune of $1,000 to $2,000 per scholarship, but nothing like this,” he said.
The Wenatchee Rotary Club, though, has been a staunch supporter, providing $70,000 in 2011 to help support the school.
“Two years later they gave us another $30,000 when we moved into our new building to help continue that financial support,” he said.
The Wenatchee School Board officially accepted the $10,000 donation at the Aug. 13 meeting.