G-A MAAX settles into role for school district

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
G-A MAAX representatives presented another check to the Greencastle-Antrim School District last week. The $50,000 will go toward paying the debt service on the loan the district took to renovate the athletic complex. From left, are: Jeff Shank, Brian Hissong (school board president), Brenda Blair, Vern McCauley and Dave Spencer.

The capital campaign raising money for Greencastle-Antrim School District projects has raised nearly $400,000 since it started in the spring of 2011. G-A MAAX (Maximizing Arts and Athletics X-cellence) chairman Vern McCauley said with a presentation last week $150,000 has now been turned over to the school.

G-ASD business manager Jolinda Wilson said the money would be used for the debt service on the 2011 Series bond.

An active committee has been meeting every other Wednesday to plan events, which have ranged from a magic show to a memorabilia auction. Its goal is to strengthen opportunities for students, as well as community pride. The first mission is to repay the $2.5 million loan the school district obtained to upgrade the track and field. Phase II is to fulfill a wish list to further enhance opportunities for students and the public. Finally, G-A MAAX wants to create a fund for maintenance of the facilities.

"We're trying to raise this money so taxpayer dollars are not used to pay for the improvements at Kaley Field," said McCauley. "We want to do it in a positive manner. We have a story to tell."

He considered the volunteer committee very loyal and hardworking. "The members continue to be passionate about what we're doing."

He is assisted by Brenda Blair, Fred Bubeck, Laurie Carty, Melinda Cordell, Kristy Faulkner, Felicia Hollingshead, Linda Koons, Keri Lewis, Andrea McCauley, Angie Schaeffer and David Spencer. Garon Gembe and Jeff Shank are the honorary chairs. G-ASD athletic director Vicki Ritchey is also active.

McCauley appreciated the list of volunteers willing to help with events, and welcomed more.

"Our breakfast with Santa in December was a huge success. Citizens just showed up to help."

A new face

A new member joined the force in January. Moriah Woods, a junior at G-AHS, was recommended by principal Ed Rife. She had expressed interest in organizing a mini-THON on campus, to support the Four Diamonds Fund for Penn State University.  

"That didn't work out," said Moriah, 17.

Rife thought the goals of G-A MAAX would be a good fit for her energy. She agreed.

"I told the committee many people didn't understand what it is all about. They think it is only for the turf. Not all the money is going for that. It's a way to give the school money for the arts and music and other things, too."

She will serve as an ambassador for the student population. Active in Student Council and Peer Leaders, she believes she can connect well with the students. She plans to put up a bulletin board explaining G-A MAAX, and eventually spearheading a fundraiser.

When the time comes for her to move on, Moriah said she would train her successor.

"The committee wants people like me to be G-A MAAX in the future,"  she said of McCauley and the others on the team. "Hopefully, I'm good enough to stay on."

McCauley commented, "We are thrilled to have her."

The schedule

On March 30 G-A MAAX is hosting a winter sports alumni basketball game for men and women. A half-marathon, the "Pub Run" from Mercersburg to Greencastle, will take place on April 13. Registrations are already being taken. McCauley said runners from five states have signed up, and they hope to attract 300. Proceeds will be split between G-A MAAX and Fix JB Sports in Mercersburg. John Flannery, owner of restaurants in both towns, is actively involved in the planning.

"We want to have five solid ongoing events after five years," said McCauley. "As they grow, the money can also fund four endowments set up through the G-A Education Foundation. We're going to be around for a long time."

The endowments cover the visual and performing arts, Tayamentasachta Environmental Center, athletics and scholarships.