BERLIN — Stephen Decatur High School (SDHS) will be opening the doors to its new community-funded field house on Aug. 13.
“It is 95 percent done,” said SDHS Principal Louis Taylor of the project.
The mission to build the facility has been a long one for Taylor, who admits that it’s been a goal of his for the last 15 years. However, he explained that there was never enough money for the expensive undertaking and it had to be put on the backburner. Luckily, earlier this year the SDHS Alumni Association, along with Taylor, decided that if funds weren’t forthcoming for a new field house it would simply raise money themselves.
“We built this building with community funds,” said Taylor.
Last October, plans for the house were unveiled to alumni and community leaders. Since then, Taylor revealed that the project has collected roughly $450,000.
“Our community has really stepped up,” he said.
While the number falls just short of the association’s $500,000 goal, Taylor pointed out that the benchmark would likely be reached, as he still has several interested donors in the works. Taylor put the spotlight on one trio of alumni in particular, saying that they were instrumental to the realization of the field house.
“They have worked extensive hours,” he said of Bergey and Co., an accounting firm that has aided Taylor in the donation gathering process.
James Bergey, along with sons Ross and Ryan, all SDHS alumni, were in attendance at Tuesday’s Worcester County Board of Education meeting and all three were recognized for their efforts with the field house.
“I appreciate them more than they know,” said Taylor.
He estimated that Bergey and Co. has probably donated close to $50,000 worth of time to the project. As for the $450,000 in actual funds raised, Taylor said that donations were “across the board” with funding coming in pieces as large as $25,000 and $50,000 and as small as $1,000 or less.
“It took a lot of time,” admitted Taylor.
Taylor maintained that the building will be worth the wait, though, and pointed out that SDHS has gained more than a field house this year; it now has an active, confident alumni association with plans for other projects in the future, possibly including school upgrades and new band uniforms.