Money has been regularly given to athletic teams as well as other district programs throughout recent years

‘Tis the season for giving, and the Crook County School District has been the grateful recipient of more than $185,000 in donations this year.

According to district Superintendent, Dr. Duane Yecha, community support is essential to the school system’s success.

“Students have been the beneficiary of a very generous community, especially over the past five or six years while the district struggled financially with the impact of the recession,” he said.

For the Crook County High School Dance Team, community support has become a necessary component of their budget, and the team received approximately $6,000 in donations and sponsorships this year.

Team coach, Amanda Estes, said that the recession mentioned by Yecha resulted in the elimination of funding for the dancers in 2009, along with the school’s entire athletic budget.

“I wondered if we were going to survive,” said Estes, “and how we were going to cover expenses and pay for a coach and staff.”

Like most coaches that year, Estes became a volunteer, but realized that that arrangement was not sustainable.

“I would love to volunteer all of my time, but I have another job and just could not continue that way,” she explained.

The dance team is not the only beneficiary of the community’s generosity. The school’s NJROTC Drill Team received almost $6,000 and the wrestling and volleyball team received more than $7,000. Non-athletic organizations such as Food 4Kids and the FFA program received thousands of dollars as well. Additionally, donors provided non-monetary items including school supplies, books, backpacks, and goods and services to be sold at the Junior Class auction.

“The generosity shown to our schools is inspiring," said Anna Logan, Crook County's director of Business and Finance, "and all of the donations we receive come from grassroots efforts. When there are gaps between what our funding will allow and what we want to accomplish, our staff and community work together in an informal way to match resources with needs.”

Just in time for Christmas, an anonymous donor delivered four bicycles to be distributed to students at Ochoco Elementary School and those in need at the Crook County Commission on Children and Families.

“When we receive generosity like this,” said Ocohoco Elementary Principal Dave Robinson, “we seek out families in need who will take them.”

Robinson found homes for two of the bikes and offered the other two to Brenda Comini, director of the Crook County Commission on Children and Families.

For the dance team, their survival requires creativity beyond their performance on the dance floor.

Explaining that team members were getting burned out by constantly asking family and friends to buy things, Estes felt that there had to be a better way.

“We started asking for sponsorships to help us get to the state competition,” she explained. “So, we offered to put donor’s names on our shirts.”

According to the school district, sponsorship for the dance team has come from a variety of local business and individuals including Armstrong Surveying, Joe Floyd and Sons, Weeks Family Medicine, Hometown Animal Hospital, RMC Contracting, Sunset Hearth and Home, Smith and Smith Farms, The Posie Shoppe, Cowgirl Trends, Barbara Burns, The Clinic Pharmacy, The Executive Inn, Dunn Brothers Fencing, and Ochoco Family Dental.

Despite the success of the sponsorships, the bulk of the team’s $32,000 annual budget comes from traditional, and not-so-traditional, fundraising efforts, including cookie dough sales, pie sales, recycled bottle drives, and scratch tickets.

“We have to get creative,” said Estes. “We can’t do what everyone else does,” she added, “and we will do whatever it takes to get to state in March.”

And it seems like the community is willing to do whatever it takes as well, for the dance team and the entire school district.

“That’s one of the things I appreciate about our community,” agreed Logan. “People are talking to each other and offering what they can give, the same way a family does.”

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