The Perry School District has begun fundraising of the 2018 edition of the Perry Bluejays home turf, Dewey Field. With a proposed matched donation of $350,000 offered by the VanKirk family in April of 2017, the school has since hustled in working to ensure matching funds are set.
Dewey Field’s complex renovation has been split into four phases, two of which will be completed by the first home football game.
Phase 1, an estimated $1.1 million dollar project includes a plaza, new entrance, ticket booths, concession and restroom building, as well as a north-side bleacher expansion.
Phase 2, an estimated $300,000 project, features a new north-side press box and a further bleacher expansion.
“In my opinion, I think this is the first time we’ve seen a large influx in interest and money to do a bunch of things at once,” said Perry High School Principal, Dan Marburger. “I think [this] is going to make our facility as competitive as around, and that’s kind of what we have to think about at different times.
“People come to town and they’re looking for facilities.”
There is an excitement that grows when a new project takes place, however.
Marburger describes a Friday night during the Bluejays football season.
“When we have a football game for example, people think about maybe the 60 kids that are out there, but it’s not just them; it’s those 60 kids, it’s those 100 kids in the band, it’s the 20 cheerleaders, it’s all of the kids working the concession stand, and then it’s all of the kids that are coming to watch those kids,” Marburger said. “At any given night, we may have 70-80 percent of our kids in school watching an event go on, which is kind of a really neat deal.”
“This is one way that we can show kids that our people care about them – just other than their teachers, their parents, there’s other people in the community that show up and want to see them do well.”
Throughout the District’s history, many of the facilities built have honored those who have made an impact on the district.
“Dewey Field goes back,” said PCSD Director of School Activities, Tom Lipovac.
According to Lipovac, a gentleman named Ralph Dewey cared for the old field called “the rock pile” that was located at the previous high school location.
Twenty years later, dating to the late 1950s, Dewey was the Building and Grounds Director for the school and the decision was made to move the high school to its current spot.
“The field was named after him, which is really unique [when] you find a school district where they name a field after a working class person, not a teacher,” Lipovac said.
Today, the legacy of paying tribute continues to live on.
“We emphasize our past and making a connection to those who came before us,” Lipovac said.
To honor the present, future plans need to be made in the process, Superintendent Clark Wicks explains.
“We have to help the people that will be after us, just like people way back [from] what Tom [Lipovac] is talking about – all of the people that paid it forward for us to enjoy,” Wicks said.
“We hope we have a lot of people that want to leave a legacy and pay it forward – it’s an exciting time.”
Finding the matching fund
The school has created the “1000 Bluejays” fundraiser in efforts to reach their set goal of $250,000 in donations.
“We’re kind of focusing on phase 1 and phase 2, but we’re not going to forget about phase 3, and potentially phase 4,” Wicks said.
There are four levels of donations for the project: Yard Line Sponsor - $1,000; Finish Line Sponsor - $5,000; Golden Goal Sponsor - $10,000; End Zone Legacy - $25,000.
In addition, contributing $250 will give donor’s the opportunity to put their name on a brick that will later be placed on the Bluejay Donor Wall. In total, all those who donate will receive recognition on the Bluejay Donor Wall.
“One of our first major donations received is the Class of 2017 [who] provided us last week with a $1,000 donation,” Lipovac said. “The hope is that other classes will follow that example.”
The kickoff for the fundraiser started on Friday, Feb. 9, and Wicks has already seen donations come in.
“We already have four people that have either written a check or committed $1,000,” Wicks said. “We have another one that is $250 and we’ve also got online we’ve received a donation on there.”
Although fundraising is still in the early stages, the school believes the ending project will make a large difference in the community.
“It’s a significant number of students that directly benefit,” Lipovac said. “New facilities are exciting, it’s not different than adults if you get a new house, or get a new car.”
“We’re looking at some enhancements with the Dewey Field Complex; we’re doing it in phases and a major part of this comes from the generosity of the VanKirk family - what we can do as a community is come together.”
To learn more about contributing to the Dewey Field project, Contact Tom Lipovac by email at Tom.Lipovac@perry.k12.ia.us or Clark Wicks at Clark.Wicks@perry.k12.ia.us.