R-II Receives generous gift

Two very different departments in the Chillicothe R-II School District - the Music Department and the Business Department at the Grand River Technical School - have been named the recipients of $180,304.89, thanks to a donation made by the Chillicothe Education Foundation on behalf of the late Loraine M. Roark, of Chillicothe. And, as well as this sizable gift, a $5,000 scholarship in Loraine’s name will also be given annually to one qualifying Chillicothe High School Senior who is pursuing a degree in Business, Business Education, Music or Music Education; from a two-year, four-year, or vocational learning institution.

“I am continually amazed by the generosity of this community’s citizens and foundations,” Superintendent Dr. Dan Wiebers said. He added that the funds will greatly help improve and update these departments to meet the needs of Chillicothe R-II students, and better prepare them for life after graduation.

Specifically, funds earmarked for the Music Department will be used for new curtains and scrim in the Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center, which will cost just over $32,000. According to Lisa Rule, PAC Technician and Drama teacher, 20 years of use have left the curtains dirty from years of set building, choir programs and drama productions. She noted that the rear traveler curtain, which crosses the length of the stage, also has multiple rips. 

“I have investigated the option of cleaning those curtains, but no company wants to clean them because of their age,” Rule explained. She added, “They are afraid the curtains will disintegrate and not hold the flame-retardant liquid that must be applied.”

As part of this generous donation, the Music Department will receive $64,724.89 to purchase needed equipment, ranging from new instruments, to better equipment, which will be used throughout the District, according to Sarah Cavanah, James Cookinham, Michele Phillips and Ryann French, R-II instrumental and vocal instructors. Specifically, because of this gift, the District will be able to purchase two acoustic pianos, new choir attire, St. Petersburg Tubas, an elementary music instrument set, marching baritones, mellophones, a vibraphone, an electric keyboard and more.

The Business Department at the Grand River Technical School will receive $83,520 as part of this gift. According to GRTS Business teachers Kyla Leatherman, Sondra Sturguess and Kelsey Butler, the current business classrooms at the GRTS are designed for the traditional learning experience, which work for many core subject classes, like math and history. However, business classes, they say, are unique, and these funds will facilitate better learning within their classrooms. “We appreciate the opportunity to create a flexible learning environment with our students to encourage the development of soft skills - such as communication, teamwork, flexibility, adaptability and more,” they said.

Funds for the business program will be used to purchase whiteboard partitions, multi-directional chairs, whiteboard tables, a workbench, stools, storage cabinets, multimedia tables, a small TV screen which will allow students to project from their laptops to the TVs, and more. According to Education Foundation member Susan Fair, the late Loraine Roark enjoyed music and shared her love of it by playing the piano and organ and singing duets with her sister, Geraldine. She also sang in the Community Choir and the choir at the First Christian Church in Chillicothe. 

Loraine also had an aptitude for business, too and one of her first jobs out of high school was as secretary for the County Superintendent of Schools. She went on to have a very successful career for the Division of Family Services.

“Chillicothe is truly an amazing community and because of the generosity of its members, our students are continually blessed through their support,” Dr. Wiebers said. He added, “These donated funds will be put to good use and will help Chillicothe and its students shine.”