Sometimes it may seem like an act of kindness doesn’t make a lasting impression, but perhaps it buries itself deep in 1957 just to spring forth abundantly in 2020. At least, that was the case for one Franklin High alum, who recently donated $50,000 to the school on behalf of the class of 1959.
“We cannot thank him enough for doing that because this opens up a lot of opportunities for all students to jump in and get involved,” Franklin High Principal Shane Pantall said. “The biggest thing we stress here at Franklin High is everybody has to get involved, from athletics, band, ROTC, all the clubs we offer. We want every student to be involved.”
The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, gave the money specifically to cover the cost of fees, equipment, supplies, travel, uniforms and more for extracurricular activities that is typically not covered by the school.
“That’s part of your experience in high school. It’s not just academics; it’s your social life too,” the donor said.
Designating the donation for these extracurricular costs had a personal significance, as the donor was in the Franklin High band when lightning struck the school, then on Columbia Avenue, in January of 1956 and burned down the building along with all the band uniforms and everything but the gymnasium. The donor said following this event, students met for classes in churches around Franklin until they moved into a new building on Hillsboro Road the next year.
While insurance covered some of the cost of the band property, as well as the many other capital losses of the school, money was still needed for the band uniforms.
“Guess what happened? The Franklin Rotary Club had stepped up to the plate and funded the rest of the monies needed to replace those 90 uniforms, and I think this is where I’m coming from,” the donor said, 63 years later. “That made a big impression on me.”
The donor also said at the end of every other school year, the school band would take a trip — “Franklin always took great pride, not only in its sports team, but in its band,” he said — and this presented another opportunity for the community to support its students.
“As you can well imagine, there were students in the band … that couldn’t afford the cost (of the trips),” the donor said. “Well, guess what happened then? The band parents of those who could afford it stepped up to the plate and covered their cost. That was good — reaching out to your neighbor so there was never a band member … that did not make it because of financial reasons.”
Pantall said the donation, given to the school over the summer, will likely be distributed not on a “first come, first served” basis but based on need.
“This is a way just that any student that’s maybe got a family that’s struggling financially or has some kind of hardship, that no student is left out because of financial responsibilities to be associated with some of these programs,” Pantall said, adding that the $50,000 donation is one of the largest the school has ever received.
The donor encouraged other alumni to give to the school as well, hoping to ensure all students have opportunities to get plugged into school activities regardless of their economic state, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m thinking about this COVID situation,” the donor said. “Now, I dare say, there’s going to be more students in need than there has been in the past, so this is all the more reason why this fund, I think, is going to be probably more important in the days ahead than it has been in the past.”