Art, music programs saved in Enterprise

Sixth-grader Zak Walters works on a new bench with teachers Linda Bright and Mark Keffer. Keffer built the bench to donate to the Enterprise Education Foundation. Another of Keffer's benches was raffled by the foundation and raised $875.

ENTERPRISE — Community members in Enterprise have placed a priority on arts and music education and work to raise funds to support the programs in the local schools. The Enterprise Education Foundation-EEF raises funds to preserve arts education in Enterprise classrooms at a time when many small schools in the region are cutting programs because of lack of funding.

EEF Secretary Nora Stangel presented the Enterprise School Board a check for $25,000 at the school board’s May meeting. The money was raised through several different programs run by the foundation.

“The Enterprise Education Foundation provides incredible support to the kids and school district. The district and school board are extremely appreciative of the support received from the foundation and the considerable time and effort board members put in to raise funds for the arts and music programs,” said Enterprise School Board chairman Nils Christoffersen.

The EEF was formed in 1998, when the State of Oregon cut funding to rural schools throughout the state. In response to the cuts, five local families decided to do what they could to save the art and music programs, and came together to work on funding solutions. Founding members of EEF were Roy Garten, Randy Strohm, Jim Dawson, John Hillock and Mike Wiedeman. Wiedeman is still active on the EEF and the other families continue their support in a variety of ways. For the past 13 years, the EEF has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the arts and music programs in Enterprise schools.

“The future of arts and band is based on the continued support of the Enterprise Education Foundation. I’m so thankful as a parent and administrator because without them (the EEF), the kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to take art and music,” said Enterprise High School Principal Blake Carlsen.

Economic conditions in the state of Oregon have resulted in cuts to arts and music programs. Additionally, the demand for funding equalization spelled out in Measure 5 has hurt rural school districts. Before Measure 5 was passed in 1990, tax dollars generated locally from timber receipts were provided to local school districts. 

“With equalization, school funding is now distributed throughout the state,” Carlsen said.

Enterprise’s art and music programs continue with classes designed for elementary through high school students. The band program has remained stable and has been led by two instructors over the past 55 years under the baton of Bob Clegg and Randy Morgan. “Someone came up to me after the high school band concert held at the OK Theatre last week to say they believe that Enterprise offers the most well-rounded education for this size school. We as a school district are complimented that a patron would say that. I feel we can always do better and the staff feels that way too. We are always working to do better,” he said.

Through the Enterprise art program students learn techniques in painting, drawing and pottery. In addition to a well-equipped high school art studio, students have the opportunity to fire pots in a kiln located in the classroom. Enterprise students have been recognized this year at art festivals held recently at Eastern Oregon University and in Joseph.

K-12 art instructor Laurie Hueckman introduces the students’ art to the public through several venues. Hueckman has displayed their art in downtown business windows and on the walls of Cloverleaf Hall during community events.

The EEF raises money by selling Enterprise school apparel, holding pledge drives, dinner auctions, basketball tourneys and through a special sponsorship from the Safeway eScrip Program.

The eScrip program raises approximately $675 per month for the EEF, the second most of any non-profit program in Oregon. Persons interested in donating through the eScrip program may do so by registering on the Internet at escrip.com or by calling 1-800-400-7878.

The amount contributed to the EEF has fallen during the past several years because of the hard economic times, down from a high of about $80,000 in years past to the latest contribution of $25,000 thus far with another $25,000 contribution still possible this year.

For more information or to make a contribution directly to the EEF: www.enterpriseeducationfoundation.com/ or follow the EEF link from the Enterprise Elementary School website.

The EEF board is made up of eight community members: Cindi Aschenbrenner president, Mike Wiedeman vice president, Janet Exon treasurer, Nora Stangel secretary, and members Rob Madsen, Donnie Rynearson, Jessica Anderson and Kazzie Dawson.

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