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Farragut High Education Foundation kicks off

The Farragut High School Education Foundation is kicking off the new school year with a $125,000 fund-raising campaign.

In a letter to parents of this year’s FHS student body, Foundation president E. Brian Sellers wrote: “There is an urgent need for $100,000 for certain improvements to the high school. With regard to those improvements, our new principal, Mike Reynolds, has already obtained a commitment from the school system for two-thirds of the funds necessary to address the over-crowded seating in the cafeteria and other wise improve the appearance of the school. However, he needs additional funds from the Foundation to be able to complete that project.”

Sellers said that this project and a list of others was the basis for the Foundation’s “best guess” at what monies the school needs to update computers, replace cafeteria seating, build library collections and a host of other projects.

“We just started talking about the needs,” Sellers said about the method of coming up with the lofty figure.

“It’s ambitious,” Sellers said, “but entirely reachable.”

Sellers said the Foundation was “revived” after an appeal was made by former FHS principal Ed Hedgepeth last year via the PTSO newsletter.

“It didn’t really come home to me until I saw my daughter’s picture on the front of the newspaper carrying her desk, along with other students, into her honors English class,” he said.

He added that he was impacted by the reported comment of the teacher that said something like, If we get anymore students, they’ll have to bring their own desks.

Reynolds said that the news story depicted a situation found in most schools at the start of the year when desks had not been distributed to classrooms as needed.

He added that the cafeteria situation was another issue in itself.

Reynolds said that he told the Foundation that he needed $20,000 to replace the seating in the cafeteria.

“We have ordered replacement seating for the cafeteria,” Reynolds said. “Right now we have seating for four hundred seventy-five, and are feeding six hundred students over four lunch periods.

“It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that we are coming up short on seating.”

Reynolds said that about 700 seats were on order to replace the hodgepodge of cafeteria seating that has been collected over 30 years of the schools existence at its present site.

Reynolds added that the county would pick up the tab for the balance of $40,000 for the seating.

Sellers said that the funds raised by the Foundation were not for “bricks and mortar” projects.

“We’re not in the bricks and mortar business,” he said, “That is the function of government funding.

“We’re trying to provide those things that government funding can’t provide. There is always going to be something more that the school is going to need that can’t be provided through traditional revenue sources.”

Sellers added that the Foundation is committed to doing “whatever we can do to help the students, they are our focus, they are our future. That’s what we’re all about.”

Reynolds added that the Foundation is an invaluable tool for the school.

“I was fortunate when I was here before, when Bill Parker, Ed (Hedgepeth), (retired assistant principal) Lavada Ferguson and a few teachers got together and there was a push to start an educational foundation,” Reynolds said about his involvement in the FHS Education Foundation in the 1980s.

He added that the Foundation was similar to the foundation that had been created at Knoxville Catholic High School, where he had served as assistant principal for six years.

Reynolds said that the Foundation was originally begun to raise funds for technology but that now the scope of the Foundation is greater.

Sellers concurred adding that the Foundation is here to support FHS academics, arts and athletics.

“We have requests for funds to help buy shelving for the library, add to the library’s collection of books, music storage and the science lab always has needs,” he said.

The letter writing campaign requests that each parent donate $100 for each of their students attending FHS.

Sellers reminded parents that the $100 was a small amount compared to what a similar education at one of the local private schools would cost.

“If only half of the parents participated,” Sellers said, “we will have met our goal.”

Sellers added that the Foundation has gotten tremendous support from businesses like TDS Telecom and the town of Farragut. He said that members of the Foundation would be making calls to area businesses seeking support.

“We want to make a bridge between the school and the community. We want the students to take ownership in the school,” he said.

In order to make a contribution, make checks payable to the Farragut High School Education Foundation, 11237 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922, Attention Mike Reynolds.

In addition to Sellers and Reynolds, members of the Foundation board of directors are: Dan Barnett, D. Brit Brand, Eddy Ford, Howard E. Jarvis, Bill Parker and Jerry R. Parkerson.


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