Foundation sees bright future for University School


JOHNSON CITY (March 31, 2014) – A group of volunteers are hoping that an upcoming alumni event will help raise enough funds to support new educational initiatives and other improvements at University School.

The “Reminisce, Reconnect, Rejuvenate Weekend” for University School at East Tennessee State University will be held April 11-12 and is sponsored by the University School Foundation, which is comprised of parent and teacher volunteers of University School students and members of the ETSU Office of University Advancement staff. 

“University School has been a rich, integral part of ETSU’s history for many decades,” said Amy Benton, vice president of the University School Foundation.  “Graduates of University School – also known by many as University High – can be found all across the country, and we wanted to create an opportunity to bring everyone together to celebrate the great memories of the school as well as to talk about future opportunities for the school.”

The weekend will include “An All-Year’s Reunion and Fundraising Dinner” on Friday evening at Millennium Centre for all graduates and former students of University School.  The evening opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner seating at 6:45 p.m.  Tickets for the April 11 dinner are $100 per person, with half of the ticket price going as a tax-deductible donation to the ETSU Foundation for University School initiatives.

On Saturday, an open house at the school will be held from 10 a.m.–1 p.m.  This “family day” event will include student performances as well as “Pickin’ in the Schoolyard” featuring the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Bands.  Lunch and snacks will be available for purchase. Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets. The Saturday open house events are free and open to the public.

“Everyone is welcome to share in this special day,” Benton said.

According to foundation members, funds raised from this event will be used to support safety projects at University School and launch Tennessee’s first Junior Appalachian Musician (JAM) Program. This after-school program would offer students the opportunity to learn how to play Appalachian music on instruments such as the guitar, fiddle or banjo, and instruction would be provided by faculty and students from ETSU. Funds raised would assist the program with start-up costs associated with purchasing instruments for JAM students who could not afford to purchase the instruments or may not want to invest until they have experienced the program.

“This is especially exciting because University School would be the first in the state to offer the Junior Appalachian Musician Program, and it will be a wonderful partnership between University School and the faculty and students at ETSU,” said ETSU First Lady Donna Noland, who also serves on the University School Foundation.  “This type of partnership makes the environment at University School so unique. We are asking the alumni to join us to ensure our children continue to learn in a secure and safe environment and in helping bridge new opportunities for University School that will influence the lives of the students who are following in their footsteps. There are some amazing opportunities for this school within reach, and with the support of our alumni, we can make greater things happen.”

She added, “We are grateful to the alumni who have expressed interest in supporting this event, and we invite all others to be part of this dinner and the weekend events. University School has been in its present location since the 1920s, and it will be a special opportunity to have a multigenerational gathering where everyone has a common bond.”

“University School is unique in that we are affiliated with the Washington County Schools and East Tennessee State University, but we do not receive state funding for capital improvements from either partner,” said Dr. Doyle Brinson, director of University School.  “Capital campaign projects and events like our alumni dinner are vital for ensuring that we can make improvements to our facility and also offer innovative programs.”

University School is governed under the auspices of the ETSU Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education.  In 1996, the school became the first K-12 laboratory school in the nation to implement a year-round calendar. In recent years, University School has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing superior academic achievement.

ETSU’s Office of University Advancement is coordinating ticket sales for the dinner. Tickets can be purchased by calling Karen Sullivan at (423) 439-6969 or emailing .

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