by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
BYRON ART TEACHER Jamie Anderson (middle) has recently launched a campaign to raise money for new butcher block worktables complete with electrical outlets for her classroom at Byron High School. Together, the community and the art students helped put on the weekend fall festival to raise additional monies for the new art tables.
Anderson is shown here at the festival with her two children Lila (left) and Liam (right) enjoying the fun. (Courtesy Photo)
Funding an art department can be a costly endeavor; with pottery wheels, kilns, supplies, and the like, funds can be hard to come by. In an effort to ease the burden on the school system’s budget, Byron art teacher Jamie Anderson and her students are getting creative in their fundraising efforts. In her third year as the high school art teacher in Byron, Anderson picks one big need to address each year, and this year she and her students are focusing on raising money to purchase butcher block worktables with electrical outlets for their room.
They have set up a GoFundMe page – titled “Art Students’ Quest For Tables!” – several Byron Board of Education members have talked about donating their annual stipends to the cause, and the art department recently hosted the Byron Fall Festival. The village has held a fall festival for a number of years, but did not plan on putting one together this year. Luckily, Anderson and her students were able to step in and organize the event. They also received help from many businesses in the village, and some from neighboring communities as well. Matador’s Pizza hosted pumpkin decorating under its overhang, the Byron Masonic Lodge hosted the Byron High School Art Show, Fairway provided helium for balloons, Balanced Body Yoga featured a haunted graveyard and haunted house, the Huhn family donated pumpkins and decorating materials, Flamingo Kids Signs created and donated an impressive banner, and the Bedell family provided horse-drawn wagon rides. Riverside Market of Durand donated doughnut holes and Burger King of Holt donated cookies and paper products.
The Byron community, once again, came together to host the fall festival, but Jamie and her husband, Ben, could not say enough about the efforts of Byron advanced art student Meghan Polack. In addition to being one of Anderson’s most talented students, Polack really took the lead in organizing the fall festival.
“Meghan gave so much of her own time, and I know she had better things she could be doing,” Anderson said recently. “She spent so much time calling people and organizing everything. She was truly instrumental in making the fall festival happen.”
Anderson, her students, and the community raised $600 from the fall festival, to go with the $1,400 earned through GoFundMe donations. The potential stipend contributions from the Byron Board of Education members would push the total closer to the desired GoFundMe goal of $5,000, and Anderson is also waiting to hear if her efforts to obtain grant funding will be approved. The “quest” will never really end for Anderson and her art students; there will always be needs. School budgets do not seem to increase very often in the state of Michigan, so items such as digital work stations and an additional pottery wheel will, most likely, need to be purchased by the art department. Thankfully, Anderson and her dedicated artists are up to the task.